Northampton Press

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Council tables decision on aerial firetruck purchase

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 by AL RECKER Special to The Press in Local News

Officials OK sale of current vehicle but express concerns about new buy

At the Sept. 19 Northampton Borough Council meeting, council tabled the approval of a purchase of an aerial firetruck costing $1.4 million.

It was approved at council’s Sept. 5 meeting to sell the borough’s current aerial firetruck to Brindle Fire Apparatus for $350,000. The truck, a 1991 KME model, had a history of necessary repairs and maintenance. The fire department, borough council and the administration agreed the aerial firetruck could no longer serve the community in an adequate manner.

“With the sale of the KME aerial ladder truck, the fire department has checked with Glick Fire Apparatus, of Bird in Hand, about the availability of a new Pierce aerial ladder firetruck,” borough Manager LeRoy Brobst said at the Sept. 19 meeting. “They have presented a price of $1,443,000, which the company will hold until Sept. 28. The same bank that provided the loan for the last vehicle purchased would provide a 15-year loan that would cost the borough $79,848 each year, assuming a 20-percent down payment.”

Council members expressed disappointment of not being appraised of such an imminent acquisition sooner and were uncomfortable with the tight deadline offered. They noted there are many other borough projects that need attention, including a major upgrade to the wastewater treatment and sewer plant.

Voting to table the purchase were council members Anthony Lopsonzski Sr., Ed Pany, Anthony Pristash, Judy Kutzler and council President Anthony Lopsonzski Jr.

Opposed to tabling the agenda item were council members Keith Piescienski and Kenneth Hall.

Piescienski is a longtime officer and firefighter with the borough fire department. Hall is captain of the borough fire police. Neither commented regarding the matter at the meeting, except to declare their vote.

Councilman Robert McHale was absent.

Kutzler, fire and health committee chair, was dismayed the proposed purchase was not brought before her committee to discuss before going to the full council.

Lopsonzski Sr. said he was uncomfortable voting on such an important matter with no prior knowledge and such a tight deadline.

“If [Glick wants] to sell it to the borough, they should extend the deadline,” he added.

Council next meets Oct. 3, past the current deadline to hold the truck’s cost.

Pany questioned the payment status loan of the Pierce firetruck bought two years ago. Brobst noted that loan has been settled.

A contingent of uniformed fire department personnel — numbering a dozen or more, including Fire Chief Keith Knoblach — was present at the borough meeting. They did not address council regarding the matter.