Dec. 22—The North Bend City Council is leaning toward purchasing a new fire engine in the next few months.
During a work session last week, Fire Chief Jim Brown told the council one of the two engines the fire department is using is 20 years old and is simply outdated. The 2001 engine in housed at station 2, and is only used as a backup.
He said the engine was purchased as a demo model, meaning it was not built or designed for North Bend. At its age, not only is it considered too old by state and national standards, but repairs are exceedingly expensive.
Brown and Finance Director Jessica Terra explained that the city has been putting $45,000 a year away to fund the future purchase of a new engine. Brown said he approached the city council now because he learned companies that make fire engines are planning to raise prices extensively in 2022.
He and Terra explained by purchasing now, the city could save with lower prices and save in the long run through in-house financing.
Terra told the council they had three options to consider when it came to purchasing a new fire engine. The first would be to do nothing now and instead continue putting aside the $45,000 a year until 2026 when there would be enough money accrued to buy an engine outright. That plan would cost the city $704,000.
The second option is to purchase in 2022 before prices go up and to since with a bank with an interest rate of around 3%. That option would cost $592,000.
The third option is to purchase in 2022 before prices go up and to finance in-house, with the fire department borrowing money from the wastewater fund and paying it back with a 1% interest rate. That option would cost $565,000.
“I remember a few months ago talking about this,” Councilor Pat Goll said. “It totally made sense to me at that point. Inflation on a fire truck right now is way high. I thought it was a great conversation then, and I think it’s a better one now.”
Several other members of the council agreed with Goll, saying the idea of buying now and financing in-house just makes sense.
“To me option 3 seems like the right way to go,” Councilor Bill Richardson said. “Inflation is 6.8%, and there is no telling what the future holds as far as inflation.”
“Looking at this, it no longer makes sense to chuck away $45,000 a year for a new truck,” Councilor Timm Slater said.
Terra agreed, saying the $45,000 would be used to pay the loan and then it would be returned to the general fund when the loan is paid off.
Brown told the council the timing is just right for the department to replace its oldest engine with a new one designed just for North Bend.
“With the 2001 vehicle we have, it’s been a good vehicle and it’s done well for us,” Brown said. “But sometimes when …….