Council waits for committee opinion before purchasing fire truck

By Olivia Haselwood
Hillsboro Star Journal – March 26, 2014

Hillsboro City Council postponed buying two vehicles for the fire department on Tuesday, even though doing so could lose the department the opportunity to purchase one. The council decided instead to wait until a committee could be formed and its recommendation could be heard.

The council made a motion to form the committee. Mayor Delores Dalke nominated Dale Klassen, Jim Ensz, Ron Matz, Clark Wiebe, Jerry Jost, and Craig Leppke and recommended fire chief Ben Steketee convene a meeting as soon as possible so the council could make a decision in a special meeting this week.

“If I had known you were at this point I would have formed the committee sooner,” Dalke said.

She said she had attended meetings of rural township fire departments, which Hillsboro Fire Department has a contract to help respond if help is needed in exchange for shared equipment costs, where concerns were voiced that Hillsboro Fire Department would purchase equipment they didn’t want, but had to pay for.

“I just don’t think its right to move forward on this without their opinion,” she said.

Steketee said the department utilized a list of features township departments said they would like to see on a new vehicle and found a used one in Alabama.

The 2004 Pierce pumper truck would replace the current pumper truck the department owns and cost $198,100. The vehicle comes equipped with four-wheel drive, has 85,000 miles, and features many things not found on the current truck.

The truck comes better equipped with safety features, Steketee said, including better lighting to illuminate scenes during night calls.

Steketee said the truck is an opportunity that only comes around every so often, and according to the company that owns the vehicle, the city’s holding period for the vehicle is up after four members of the department traveled to Alabama last weekend to check out the vehicle.

“This came together a lot quicker than I thought,” Steketee said. “We felt the truck was worth investigating and we put together the search based on specs made available to us from the township departments. We’re confident they will approve of the vehicle.”

Council member Shelby Dirks said he felt Steketee was putting the cart before the horse by asking the council to make a motion before forming a committee.

Dalke said she couldn’t in good faith agree to the purchase without the committee’s recommendation.

“They need to have a chance to look at your presentation because we promised that this wouldn’t happen,” Dalke said. “It sounds like a good truck but having a say is really important to them.”

Dalke said the recommendation to purchase a new truck and chassis for the rescue truck needed to also be discussed by the committee.

The council also discussed adding to the agenda of a special meeting submitting a sealed bid to purchase land for sale by USD 410. The land adjoins property owned by the city containing the compost pile and the city shop.

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster