Raisin Township Supervisor votes no as Raisin board approves new fire truck
One of Raisin Township’s veteran firefighters made a motion to the board on Monday, March 17, to purchase a new fire truck costing $408,982.
The truck will be purchased from Emergency Vehicles Plus from Holland and Milan. The board approved a $22,000 trade-in of a 1996 truck that had been problematic for the DPS, and an additional $20,000 from the public safety equipment fund that Trustee Tom Hawkins proposed, with a five-year plan to include payments of $84,000 per year and an interest rate of 2.95 percent.
Trustee Dale Mitchell, one of the fire department’s founding members said he recalled the first one the township bought.
“Two of us went to Battle Creek to pick up our first one,” recalled Mitchell. He called the 2013 Rosenbauer that had been a demo truck “a nice looking truck that I think will do the job they need to do.”
Assistant Chief Eddie Mathis of the Raisin Township Department of Public Safety (DPS) took the lead on researching and comparing costs of the used truck with different companies. In a presentation to the board, who looked over the fire engine during the meeting, Mathis explained the truck’s capabilities, which included additional cab space and a wireless intercom system.
Township Supervisor Jay Cavanaugh voted no to the purchase, stating that while he commended Mathis and Asst. Chief Jake Warner on their research, his critique of the process was directed at the board, since it had not been put out for bid or included in the budgeting process.
“I’m just wondering who’s leading here? Public Safety or the Board,” said Cavanaugh. “In this case it’s clearly coming from the Public Safety Department. This is the first meeting where we’re having discussion about a fire truck and spending $84,000 per year and no one here knows if we can afford it.”
“We’re very apparently aware that we can afford it with $500,000 in our public safety fund for replacement,” said Trustee Larry Crittenden. “I’m tired of being the whipping boy, Mr. Supervisor, and that truck has been on the board’s mind a number of times and talked about for the past several months.”
Other board members concurred that the 1996 truck is not reliable or even safe with intermittent brake problems and that there had been prior discussion.
“It appears that the board is taking the lead on a new fire truck,” said Trustee Tom Hawkins. “Can we afford it? Absolutely. We have millage coming in that more than adequately can pay for this and continue to fund future equipment.”
Cavanaugh said the public safety millage was to be up for evaluation every year. In the current budget year, approximately $150,000 of that millage was directed toward the funding of road projects. Cavanaugh ran for office on a platform of finding a way to attend to the township’s deteriorating roads. The township will spend approximately $200,000 on road repairs this year, which won’t cover a lot of pavement with rebuilding costing approximately $600,000 per mile.
“It doesn’t matter which funding plan you use, whether it’s $84,000 for five years or one of the other plans,” said Cavanaugh. “That money should be budgeted with a plan laid out before us showing how we can afford this — how that money is going to be used.”