In the second of two budget work sessions conducted this week by Erwin Board of Mayor and Alderman this week, Alderman Mark Lefever on Thursday described the budget situation as an “an either or — borrow or increase taxes.”
The discussion quickly turned to the options of debt restructuring with new financing versus a bond issue.
Essential needs on the table include a new fire engine, a new fire rescue truck, and second fire department location to keep the department centrally located to all of Erwin.
Fire Chief Darren Bailey told the board at least of portion of those needs must be met in order to maintain the town’s ISO (Insurance Services Office) ratings.
Going through the options, Bailey said ISO points lost in one area of the scoring could be made up in other areas.
He listed the lack of second station to put the department’s trucks within 1 1/2 miles of the entire town as the ISO scoring factor likely to have the greatest impact and suggested possible solutions, including the comparatively inexpensive cost of building a training tower and a small building on the north end Erwin or negotiating with NFS to provide a building for a fire truck on the south side of town.
To avoid a huge expenditure at this time, Lafever suggested addressing some “menial repairs” needed at the current fire station and putting together a committee to create a five-year plan for fire department facilities.
Addressing the need for fire trucks, Bailey said he had come across a “like new,” late model engine and late model rescue truck in Kentucky offered in a bundle for $250,000, compared to the average $500,000 cost of a new engine.
The problem, Bailey said, is that such offers typically have a quick turnover and inquired about the possibility of “at least making a deposit” on the trucks.
Mayor Doris Hensley said the town would have to first find the funding. She noted the projected budget only includes about $30,000 in uncommitted revenues while, in addition to the fire trucks, the town also needs two new police officers.
Bailey said, “I understand you can’t pull $400,000 out of the sky, but the rescue truck has got to be replaced” and estimated the cost at $25,000 to $30,000.
Town recorder Glenn Rosenoff suggested the town look at borrowing and told the board financing experts had already evaluated the town’s debt and were ready to make a presentation to help the board figure out what form of financing makes sense.
Rosenoff suggested 4:30 p.m. June 11, or one hour prior to the board’s next regular meeting, as a tentative date for the presentation.
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