The Chesterton Town Council has taken the first step in the acquisition of a new engine for the Fire Department.
At their meeting Monday night, members voted 4-0 to instruct Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann to review the bid specifications for a new engine, with an eye on going out to bid sometime soon. Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, was not in attendance.
As Fire Chief John Jarka reminded the council, retired chief Mike Orlich appeared before the Westchester Township Board in May 2013, to request some amount of funding for a new engine, which Jarka estimates could cost between $350,000 and $500,000. At that time the Township Board committed to making the first two annual lease-purchase payments on an engine, neither payment to exceed $65,000.
If the CFD were to take delivery of the engine in 2016 the Township Board’s commitment would cover that year’s scheduled payment and the next year’s as well, with the 2018 payment being made with moneys from Cumulative Capital Development (CCD), funded with a dedicated property-tax rate and used exclusively for the purchase of emergency equipment.
In 2018, as it happens, the town will be making the final lease-purchase payment on the CFD’s ladder truck, so in a single year only would the CCD be under a double lease-purchase obligation, Jarka said.
“I have worked with Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela on a payment plan from the CCD fund and the payments would not exceed what is currently paid out of the fund,” Jarka stated in a memo submitted last week to the council. “Based on the history of this fund, the Clerk-Treasurer feels confident that as the town’s (assessed valuation) increases there will continue to be an annual increase in the CCD fund.”
Jarka noted that a new engine would replace Engine 511, a 1992 model, which is currently used as backup for Engine 512, a 2001 model. The latter, he added, nonetheless has cost the CFD thousands of dollars over the last five years in maintenance and repair costs.
Engines are any fire department’s backbone apparatus. They are the first on any scene and carry not only firefighters’ ladders, hoses, rescue and extrication equipment, and other gear, but also a 750-gallon water supply and pump, for a quick initial attack on a fire.