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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 8, 2009

In split vote
Village buys new $300K fire truck

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT After a spirited public hearing, the village board approved Tuesday night by a vote of 4-1, with Trustee Kerry Dineen dissenting, a resolution to buy a new $318,450 fire truck.

Fire Chief Paul Miller began the public meeting that preceded the vote by explaining that there had been only two bids received by the fire department and that, of the two, only one company, V.R.S. Sales, had made a bid that included all of the specifications that the department requested.

The fire department’s current truck is 13 years old. Miller said that selling the used truck while it still relatively new would ensure a higher value, which could be applied to the cost of the new truck.

In addition to authorizing the purchase of the new truck, the village also approved selling the 1996 Pierce Saber E-16 Fire Truck to Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus, LLC for $91,026.

Mayor James Gaughan began the board discussion by clarifying the village’s financial situation with regards to the truck. The village has $193,039 in reserve accounts set aside for the truck’s purchase. This, added to the $91,026 from selling the 1996 fire truck, means that the village would be short $34,385, which, according to Gaughan, would have to come from the village’s reserve fund.

Gaughan said the village’s long-range purchase plan calls for buying a new fire chief’s car estimated at $30,000 in 2011 and another new fire truck in 2016 or 2017 for $400,000. While Gaughan said selling current vehicles could mitigate these costs, the decision to purchase a new truck on Tuesday would put the village in a deficit of at least $200,000 in the next seven to eight years.

Trustee Kerry Dineen wondered if, considering the potential necessity to bond debt in the future, it wasn’t doing the village a disservice. “I’m not saying the truck wouldn’t be used but this is tough for Altamont to be putting this much money for a piece of equipment that would be needed to service the outlying areas. Financially, I’m just worried,” she said.

Chief Miller confirmed that 90 percent of the needs of the fire department are satisfied with its current trucks and that the new truck would help with non-hydrant areas outside the village. Miller also said that the new truck’s capabilities would help as the village and outlying areas plan for new homes to be built.

Lois Ginsburg of Euclid Avenue spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting and said, “If you are meeting 90 percent of your needs already, I have a problem being $200,000 in debt when we have to purchase new equipment. If we can utilize what we have now with the aid of other districts, we should do so. I’m concerned about the future.”

Gaughan added that the process of purchasing the truck had highlighted other issues that he would like to see addressed in the future.  First, he said, he expects the fire department to submit a revised 25-year purchasing plan and that he “assumed it would be more realistic in terms of money.”

Gaughan also said the current fire department district taxation structure needs to be addressed during next year’s budget process in order to assess whether the current division of 55 percent for Guilderland and 45 percent for Altamont is still applicable or whether Altamont could reduce its portion of the fire department budget in the future.

While board members questioned whether or not it would be better to wait until more possible bids came in and more could be learned about the village’s needs, Chief Miller explained that the urgency to buy was due to the fact that beginning next year, fire-truck engines will have to comply with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 diesel emissions standards and will cost between $17,000 and $35,000 more. The increased costs are associated with the engine’s additional parts and more sophisticated engineering needed to get rid of almost all of the emissions’ pollution.

After the board meeting, The Enterprise asked Gaughan if the village should wait and have a truck with superior emission standards; Gaughan said he was not familiar enough with the details of emission standards to comment but stated, “All facts considered, it seemed more judicious to move forward and accept Chief Miller’s recommendations.”

Other business

The board also:

— Heard from Trustee Christine Marshall that herself; Richard Strout of Barton and Loguidice; and Tim McIntyre, superintendent of public works for Altamont, would be reporting their recommendations for updating the Altamont sewer system at the November board meeting. Trustee Bill Aylward reminded Marshall and the rest of the board that Strout was a vendor and therefore his recommendations to the village should, “be watched closely and carefully”;

— Heard from Gaughan that the village was co-submitting a Capital District Transportation Committee grant application with the town of Guilderland to install sidewalks for the length of Gun Club Road from its juncture with Route146 to its juncture with Western Avenue. Gaughan said it was part of the pedestrian and bike study completed in January;

— Heard from Chief Miller that there will be a fire prevention open house on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at  Altamont’s firehouse, and that there were five calls to the fire department in the month of September;

— Heard from Donald Cropsey, superintendent of the building department, that John Donato plans to transform the defunct Altamont Lanes Bowling Center, located on the Voorheesville Road, into an auto parts store;

— Heard from McIntyre that the sidewalk replacement program is complete for the season and that 800 lineal feet were completed. McIntyre also said that leaf pickup begins this week and will continue through November, and that water-main flushing will be in progress until the end of the week;

— Heard from Commissioner of Public Safety Anthony Salerno that there were seven arrests in the month of September;

— Passed a resolution to authorize Gaughan to submit a 211 waiver request for Commissioner Salerno. A 211 waiver request is required for all retired state employees who are earning a state pension and want to return to public employment. A representative from the New York Department of Civil Service explained to The Enterprise that, in order for Salerno to receive both a current salary and state pension, the village must produce evidence that it was unable to find qualified non-retirees to fill the position. When Salerno was hired as Altamont’s commissioner of public safety, he also worked as a police detective for the city of Albany; and

— Approved the recommendations of the Altamont Guilderland Referral Committee regarding an application from Susan A. Gage-Murphy, 6333 Gun Club Road, for a side yard setback for a garage.

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