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Plan to fund fire equipment on Monday’s agenda

By Staff | Aug 8, 2013

City council will not have much to vote on during Monday’s regular city council meeting at city hall, just a few consent items.

But there will be two introductions of ordinances – including one that would lay the funding groundwork to purchase $1.5 million in fire equipment -? and a presentation updating council on its utility contracts.

The first ordinance will be to allow City Manager John Szerlag to enter into “permissive use agreements” with governmental entities or contractors working with a governmental entity on any property owned by the city in order to provide necessary services related to public projects.

In other words, it provides contractors areas to put their trucks and other equipment when it comes time to begin projects such as the Southwest 6&7 utilities expansion.

“It’s like when the county came in on the Pine Island road project. We need staging areas so it makes things more accessible for the paving projects coming up,” Councilmember Lenny Nesta said. “We need places for contractors to put their power equipment in one area nearby.”

Contractors may also work to use private property as well, said city spokesperson Connie Barron, since city property may not be readily available.

“We have to enter into an agreement with them. They can’t just start parking their vehicles there,” Barron said. “You don’t want to add cost to a project by requiring the contractor to drive five miles one way to bring their equipment to the site.”

The public hearing for that ordinance will be Aug. 21.

The other ordinance intro authorizes the issuance of a maximum of $1.5 million in fire protection assessment revenue notes, which would go toward the acquisition of certain facilities, vehicles and equipment related to fire services.

This will primarily direct the city attorney and the city’s bond counsel, Bryant Miller Olive, to begin the bond validation process and the parallel track to secure financing, which includes, the release of an RFP for a bank loan, the preparation of a supplemental ordinance, with closing timed to correspond with the expiration of the appeal period of the validation.

The city manager put together a list of new equipment for next fiscal year, with much of the money intended for a new fire ladder for $750,000 and two new brush trucks for $180,000.

“Ladder trucks don’t come cheap. If you’re looking at a platform truck, you’re talking about $1 million. They ran as much as $900,000 when I was buying them,” Nesta, a career firefighter, said. “Our last brush fire we borrowed them from Pine Island because our newest truck was out indefinitely.”

“It’s not a wish list. It’s a needs list. It’s an evaluation of the equipment and other capital needs for the department,” Barron said. “This bond will be used to validate the fire protection methodology.”

The public hearing is set for Aug. 26.

Also, City Auditor Margeret Krym and Rich Townsend of R.L. Townsend & Associates will report to council on their review of contracts for the construction of Southwest 6&7.

Barron said they want to make sure the contracts have been written in a way that benefits the city.

“The city manager wanted to bring in an auditor at the outset so instead of an auditor coming in at the end, we wanted to bring him in at the beginning and say ‘Here’s how you do it,”‘ Barron said. “It’s a smarter approach to construction management as you’re trying to reduce the potential for any problems.”