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New truck coming for firefighters

The city of Farmington has a plan, and by this time next year, Farmington firefighters should have the new fire truck they've been looking for.

Four of five council members offered support at a Monday night workshop for a plan that will allow the department to start the process of ordering the approximately $555,000 combination engine and rescue truck. The truck is expected to take from nine to 12 months to build.

Council member Julie May was not at Monday's meeting.

The city will pay for the truck with a five-year loan from the city's water board, which has money set aside for future projects.

City administrator David McKnight expects a formal proposal to come to the city council either at its March 19 meeting or at its first meeting in April.

The fire department has been lobbying for years for a new truck, but its case gained some urgency in recent months when one of the department's two current engines suffered breakdowns that left it unavailable for multiple fire calls. The department was forced to call for help from neighboring departments and in at least one instance was delayed in its response.

The council members at Monday night's meeting supported buying the new truck through a cooperative organization called the Houston Galveston Agreement Consortium. Joining the group will cost the city $1,000, but like a Sam's Club for cities membership will provide access to discounted prices on everything from fire trucks to office supplies.

According to estimates presented Monday, a truck bought through the HGAC will cost $25,000 less than a new truck. The city also considered buying a demo truck that the manufacturer would keep for up to six months after it was completed, but rejected the idea because it would delay the truck's arrival and save the city just $7,000.

The city gives up some control when it buys through HGAC rather than buying a truck built entirely to its wishes. The consortium's rules say the new truck will meet at least 75 percent of the department's specifications and firefighters on hand Monday said they likely will be able to get much closer to exactly what they're looking for.

Buying through HGAC will also save the department the time and cost associated with requesting bids from builders.

"It would speed up the process and streamline it and save some money at the end," fire marshal John Powers told council members.

A number of local cities have joined HGAC. The Rosemount Fire Department bought a new fire engine through the group last year.

Firefighters were happy with the plan for a new truck, and city McKnight called the plan to pay for it a win-win. The water board has the money available and doesn't expect to need it in the next five years. The city will pay 2 percent interest on the loan, which is more than the water board is getting with its current investments.

The city also benefits, McKnight said, because the interest payments will go back into the city rather than to an outside bank.

"I thought it was creative and it's using funds that, quite frankly, some people are frustrated the water board is sitting on," council member Christy Jo Fogarty said Monday. "To me, it's a very good use of internal borrowing."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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