Lehigh Valley

Forks Township postpones action on new rescue vehicle purchase

FORKS TWP., Pa. - Forks Township Board of Supervisors agreed Thursday night that more time is needed to decide how to finance a new $787,000 rescue vehicle requested by the fire department.

Fire Chief William Carver said the 1999 rescue vehicle still in service has limited storage and, while still mechanically sound, can no longer fight fires. Repairs are impractical because of the cost, he told the board.

Carver and a team assembled last year to look for a replacement identified and recommended a rescue vehicle from Custom Fire Apparatus Inc. of Osceola, Wis., with 500 cubic feet of storage space and water pump capable of 1,250 gallons per minute.

With financing, it would cost $68,980 a year for 15 years. The old vehicle could be sold by the township and possibly fetch $75,000 to $100,000, Carver said.

Supervisors, while supportive of the fire department and its request for a new rescue vehicle, said more time was needed to determine financing.

Secretary-Treasurer Bob Egolf suggested time was needed “to ruminate on this and think of the best way to possible to finance this truck.”

Supervisor Dan Martyak suggested that a separate, one-time fire tax be imposed to not only pay for the rescue vehicle but perhaps also fund the fire department’s projected needs into the future. He said that way residents would know exactly what the special tax would be supporting.

But Jim Farley, the township’s finance director, cautioned against that, saying a fire tax would create a restricted fund. He suggested a millage increase to create a board-controlled fund for fire-fighting vehicles.

Board Chairman John O'Neil and Vice Chairman Erik Chuss said knowing the fire department’s seven-year forecast for its equipment needs is key to making a sound financial decision.

Carver was told the board would act on the fire department’s request next month. The quoted price for the vehicle is valid for 60 days from May 26.

In other business, the board unanimously approved a $1.9 million, three-year solid waste and recycling contract with County Waste and Recycling of Clifton Park, N.Y. While residents will no longer have unlimited garbage pickup, the contract will not involve raising garbage fees.

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