BEAUFORT — Despite the need for a tax increase to cover the cost, town commissioners agreed Monday to a financing agreement to borrow up to $1.1 million to purchase a new ladder truck for the Beaufort Fire Department.
During the board’s Monday meeting, held via the Zoom meeting platform, commissioners voted unanimously approve the financing agreement, along with a budget amendment required for the purchase.
The truck will be financed over 15 years through Branch Banking and Trust Co., now Truist, at an interest rate of 2.19%. The town will borrow the final purchase price of the equipment, which officials said Friday was approximately $990,000.
“For financing it for 15 years, it’s going to be around $78,000 a year (in payment), which is something under 1 cents [sic] on the tax rate,” Town Manager John Day said. “The budget is still being prepared right now so I can’t really say what that’s going to look like, other than to tell you it will need to be an addition to the tax rate. An addition to what’s being paid now.”
Currently, the town’s ad valorem property tax rate is 46 cents per $100 in assessed value.
“Our budget is going to be difficult this year, and this is going to be adding $78,000 that were going to have to spend every year … it’s just going to make the budgeting process more tough,” Commissioner John Hagle noted.
The fire department requested a new ladder truck to replace the 1997 Seagrave donated to the town in 2017. Fire Chief Tony Ray said that truck has been plagued with maintenance issues.
Problems with the older truck particularly came to light Dec. 22, when fire crews fought a large blaze at the Spouter Inn Restaurant and Bakery downtown. After that fire, Chief Ray approached the board about a new ladder truck in late February.
“The donated fire truck … (to) get the truck on the road it cost the town quite a bit of money to bring it up to certification standards. We’ve had some maintenance issues with the truck,” he told commissioners Monday. “…last year the truck was out of service for approximately half of the year.”
The chief has identified a new ladder truck, built in late 2018 and considered “rolling stock,” for purchase. Fire officials demonstrated a similar model earlier this year and found it met many of the criteria they laid out for a new apparatus.
By buying a truck considered rolling stock, the town avoids a wait for construction of a new vehicle but still secures one with a full warranty, Chief Ray noted.
Mr. Day said Friday Chief Ray had inspected the new truck and it could arrive in town in about three weeks.
Though several commissioners said they wished the purchase wasn’t necessary, all lent their vote to move forward.
“I think the Spouter fire showed us that we can’t wait until another episode happens and might not have as favorable an outcome,” Commissioner Ann Carter noted. “It looks like this is going to be the best bet we can get at this time, even though I sure hate to have to pay out the money right now, but sometimes you don’t have a choice.”
In other action at Monday’s meeting, commissioners:
- Approved draft minutes from the board’s March 9 meeting.
- Approved the town clerk to investigate a petition for voluntary annexation for Old Seaport Development LLC on Aqua 10 Road.
- Approved the fiscal 2019-20 audit contract with Martin Starnes & Associates, CPAs.
- Approved the fiscal 2020-21 budget calendar, setting potential adoption of the municipal budget for Monday, June 8.
- Adopted the Carteret County Emergency Operations Plan.
- Approved moving the Crystal Coast Half Booty Triathlon from Saturday, May 9 to Sunday, Oct. 11.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.