Council tables fire truck purchase
Hillsboro City Council members told City Administrator Larry Paine on Friday that they need more information about the purchase of a fire engine by Lehigh, Risley, Liberty, and Menno townships before the council can decide the city’s appropriate level of involvement.
Those townships have a joint board that contracts with the city for fire protection. That board was considering purchasing a new fire engine that would be added to the city’s fire department. That part of the arrangement would benefit the city, because the fire engine would also be available to use in town, Paine said.
Fire Chief Ben Steketee said that arrangement predates his tenure with the city.
In at least one previous case, the city purchased a fire truck with funds provided by the townships, he said. But in this situation, the townships don’t have enough in their budgets to purchase the truck upfront and would have to purchase it through a lease contract.
The problem with being the buyer in this case is that municipalities, including townships, have a right of nonappropriation, Paine said.
That means that in future years, the city couldn’t force the townships to make payments through the city. He said if that happened, the city would be in the position of either paying that township’s share or invoking its own right of nonappropriation.
“Technically it’s not a black mark for our financial integrity, but for practical purposes it is,” Paine said.
Council member Bob Watson said he didn’t think the city had enough information to commit to purchasing the truck.
Council member Kevin Suderman agreed. He said if the city gets involved, it needs to be involved from the beginning —from choosing specifications to selecting winning bids.
“If we’re going to help fund it, we need to be involved in that process,” Suderman said.
The council instructed Paine to let the townships know the council wanted more information before acting.
Last modified Nov. 23, 2010