Cranbrook is moving forward with the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck for the fire department, after it was put on hold during financial uncertainty in late spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Elected officials and staff discussed the issue during a council meeting on Monday night, debating whether to put the decision on hold for a few months to allow for more time to receive updated financial information.
However, given that the existing ladder truck in use by the fire department has reached the end of it’s lifespan, council voted to move forward with the purchase.
“The City of Cranbrook is well into its need for an aerial apparatus and those aerial apparatus usually have 20-year lifespans, according to the policies by which our homes and businesses are insured within the city,” said Scott Driver, Director of Cranbrook Fire and Emergency Services.
The ladder truck, which is budgeted at $1.4 million, will be purchased using a five-year loan.
Given that it will be acquired through borrowing, there are potential tax implications.
Annual payments average out at approximately $290,000, however, whether or not the borrowing will affect the overall municipal tax rate remains to be seen as staff begin preparations for the fall budget planning sessions.
Though the current ladder truck has reached its end of life, favourable rates with the American dollar is another factor, according to Driver.
“The dollar has returned to levels where we would absolutely be able to buy an apparatus that we had planned on in last year’s budget cycle with the money that we’ve budgeted,” Driver said. “So we’re back to a place where we can afford it, and when we buy apparatus like this, we don’t make a payment on it until a year after the apparatus is delivered, which would be 18 months from the time of purchase.”
While there was discussion about tabling the decision for a few months until updated property tax collection revenues are are known, council voted to move forward the with purchase.
“From the information provided this evening, I think we have to get this ladder truck anyways,” said Coun. Norma Blissett. “We will never want to pay for it, but we have to get it. I don’t think it makes any difference [putting it off]. I think we might as well go ahead. From what Chief Driver says, we have to get that truck.”