In a 4-3 decision, town council approved the purchase of two light-duty fire trucks at a cost of approximately $90,000.
The decision was made Monday, Sept. 21 during council’s regular meeting after hearing from Fire Chief Jamie Wilkinson.
He said the two trucks required replacement, a 2006 Dodge half-ton extended cab and a 1994 GMC one-ton diesel with both needing extensive repair work. For the Dodge, Wilkinson said there is extensive body work needed and the GMC has a blown head gasket that leaks antifreeze.
Coun. Carla Prediger voiced concern over the request considering that both town and county councils are working towards a new agreement as Ponoka County served notice it was terminating the older service agreement. She asked if the county was consulted in the capital purchase.
“Have we had a discussion with the county regarding these potential changes?” asked Prediger.
Wilkinson replied that he and the finance department discussed the idea and they felt it was better to purchase the trucks and ask once a new agreement is made with the county. Coun. Loanna Gulka suggested the town has to move forward with the decision considering the aged trucks.
“Maybe that’s something that, should we reach an agreement with the county, then we can certainly ask for recovery from them,” said Gulka.
Prediger disagreed stating that the town moving ahead without discussions with the county limits consultation moving forward.
CAO Rachel Kunz suggested that raising the need for capital costs during negotiations may be seen as the town taking advantage of the county. She added that if discussions are fruitful between the two groups, then the cost of the trucks can be brought up.
Coun. Tim Falkiner said the trucks need to be replaced and the town should move ahead as it is a safety concern for firefighters. “If we go to a regional agreement with the county, then we can have the discussion … if they say no, fine, we eat the cost of them.”
Mayor Rick Bonnett asked if council could wait until after the Oct. 8 meeting between the two groups over a regional system. Wilkinson replied that would have to be council’s decision. “We’re just trying to get this moving when we can,” said Wilkinson.
Funds for the capital costs will come from $70,000 set aside for vehicle replacement in 2014 and the rest being added to the 2015 capital budget.
Mayor Bonnett and councillors Prediger and Underhill voted against the decision.
Council votes on Mayor working with the county
Ponoka County recently invited both the Ponoka and Rimbey mayors sit in on the hiring process of a county fire chief.
There was some debate by town councillors about how that would look and it was an item agenda for town council.
“I like the word ‘appointment’ if they’ve already dictated who they want to be on that committee,” stated Gulka.
For Falkiner his concern was over hiring someone not related to the town and suggested no one should be appointed to the committee.
“I don’t think we should be hiring county employees,” offered Falkiner.
“If the talks with the county don’t go the way that everybody hopes they will, I think by adding someone from our council to sit on their hiring committee takes credence to any argument they might make,” he added.
One thought was to bring some town administration into the process. Gulka asked if that would be something the town could request.
However, for Prediger having Mayor Bonnett on the committee is a sign of good faith between the two groups. “I think we should support that.”
The final hiring decision would sit with the county, she added.
Gulka suggested a councillor, Sandra Lyon, who sits on the town’s protective services committee, should sit on the county hiring committee.
Council voted in favour of the motion to have Coun. Sandra Lyon and/or the mayor sit on the county hiring committee. The vote passed 4-3 with Lyon, Falkiner and Gulka against the motion.