TOWNSEND — In the coming year, a new rescue truck will join the Townsend Fire-EMS Department’s existing fleet.
Late last week, townspeople voted to accept the 15-year bond Chief Donald Klein put together to fund the purchase of the vehicle, which he will use to replace two current trucks that are no longer in acceptable condition to serve the town effectively.
It was a close margin, a difference of just 23 votes between the two sides.
A total of 379 voters took part in the June 26 election, only 7 percent of the town’s 6,075 registered voters.
Broken down by precincts, Precinct 1 said no by a vote of 72 in favor to 87 opposed; Precinct 2 said yes by a vote of 97 in favor to 59 opposed; and Princinct 3 was split down the middle with 32 votes for and 32 votes against.
The townspeople will only be asked to help cover a portion of the ladder truck’s total $850,000 cost, which includes equipping the vehicle to make it a fully-functioning rescue truck, over the next 15 years. The department has managed to free-up $521,250, thanks to previous vehicular purchases finally coming off the books.
The remaining $328,550 will be acquired through a small tax increase, though Klein took pains to make the financial hit as soft a blow as possible, said. He recently estimated the additional cost to the average homeowner would be $8.10 a year for the duration of the bond, a total payment of $121.50 over the course of the 15 years.
The purchase of the truck, including the bond, was proposed in an article at Town Meeting in May and passed there. The Thursday, June 26, election was the last hurdle, short of a completed sale and delivery of the vehicle.
When it arrives, it may not be a moment too soon.
Department vehicles Rescue One and Ladder One are at or nearing the end of their service time to the town; the former was taken out-of-service some time ago and the latter is currently operating on what the chief termed “band-aid fixes” for a few months now. The new truck will replace both vehicles as the new “flagship” of the fleet.
And though Ladder One could have continued on for a few more months, maybe a year, with those temporary repairs, waiting to purchase the truck may not have been as finance-friendly: numerous merchants told Klein the cost for this truck could increase by $100,000 over the next year.
“We’re in the process now of finishing up the specifications for the truck,” Klein said. Once that is completed, the paperwork will be reviewed by the town administrator and town counsel, then go out for bid; state law requires the taking of the lowest bid.
“This whole process will probably take a minimum of a year, from the time we go out to bid. We’re hoping that by this time next year, we’ll be fairly close to seeing the truck.”