A town meeting has been called for 6:30 p.m. Thursday in room 133 of Town Hall to approve a special appropriation from the fund balance to purchase a $67,300 truck for the . The Board of Finance (BOF) approved the spending at a recent meeting after hearing from police Maj. Jay Purcell, who explained that this was a one-time, serendipitous opportunity for the town to achieve a capital goal at almost one-third the cost.
The vehicle in question, a Ford Super Duty outfitted to act as an emergency response vehicle and mobile command post, is currently owned by Lancaster County Police in Nebraska, the recent recipients of a grant allowing them to upgrade to a newer vehicle that suits their needs better. BOF member Phil Kurtz discovered the discounted vehicle after speaking with Purcell about the need in the department.
“It’s served them well mechanically and looks to be in very good shape,” Purcell said, noting that the Brookfield Fire Department’s maintenance mechanic happens to be visiting a nearby department a mere 20 minutes away and will inspect the truck before it is purchased.
The truck, priced at around $175,000 new, is also outfitted to many of the specifications the department is looking for.
“It’s a good deal because it’s the right deal for us,” Purcell told the BOF, as it has wired mounts for communications equipment, proper storage places installed and an extendable awning to transform the rear into a mobile command center.
The vehicle is a part of the town’s five-year capital plan for a number of years, according to First Selectman Bill Davidson, however “every time we $175,000 we push it back a year; this seemed to be a superb opportunity to solve a capital needs problem at one-third the cost.”
Finance Board members, while appreciative of the timing and need, chaffed at the idea of approving an appropriation from the fund balance without considering how this need stacked up against other potential needs.
“I basically support us buying this vehicle,” said Vice Chairman Irv Agard, who, along with the other five BOF members, voted in favor of the purchase. “But if dollars are limited — as they always are — is this vehicle number one on your priority list?”
Agard suggested creating a priority list of projects, similar to the five-year capital plan, but which would be paid for out of the fund balance rather than bonding.
The other board members agreed with Agard, however, as member Ron Jaffe said, “this is a unique situation that will not occur if we do not take advantage of it right now.”
With the approval of the BOF, the appropriation request goes to the voters at Thursday’s town meeting.