New tanker truck purchase wins approval

March 4, 2015   ·   0 Comments

Should other municipalities that make use of the Orangeville Fire Department pay more towards the safety, upkeep and functionality of the service? That was a question  raised by Councillor Don Kidd during Monday night’s Finance and Administration Committee meeting.

The issue was came up during a Capital Budget discussion surrounding the need for the fire department to purchase a new tanker truck, at a cost of about $500,000.

“I don’t believe that Mono, Amaranth and East Garafraxa are paying their fair share for use of the fire department, and I don’t believe that we need a pumper tanker truck in Orangeville,” said Councillor Kidd. “I think it’s time that council says to these municipalities that [they] have to pay [their] fair share. The taxpayers in Orangeville can no longer afford to carry Mono and the others.”

He added that Orangeville taxpayers have been supplementing the high costs for a number of facilities in Orangeville that residents of the three municipalities regularly use.

“They already use our libraries, our ball parks, our arenas, and many other facilities in this town that the taxpayers in Orangeville supply,” he said. “Yes they do pay a minimal cost, but they’re not paying enough.”

Fire Chief Andy Macintosh said the pumper tanker is necessary to continue providing services to the surrounding municipalities, and could result in the loss of $800,000 in revenue for the Fire Department in 2016.

“We need this vehicle to service the townships, and that is the money we would be making off doing so next year,” said Chief Macintosh.

“This year we are making $700,000 approximately – that would affect the budget in coming years if we are not servicing the [other] townships.”

The issue is that the current – and only – tanker truck in the fleet is old and unsafe, and will not be roadworthy by next year.

“It’s one of the most dangerous trucks that we have on the road, and it’s a matter of safety,” said Chief Macintosh.

Despite the need however, Councillor Kidd still felt it wasn’t Orangeville Council’s responsibility to be the ones to foot the bill on the backs of local taxpayers.

“I would certainly not expect that we would have to pull the plug tomorrow on those municipalities if we decided not to supply pumper tanker truck tonight,” he said. “It’s time that the townships step up; they are using our facilities and our taxpayers are suffering because of it. It’s time that the people in Orangeville were rewarded.”

Councillor Kidd also felt it was important to look at where else Orangeville taxpayers suffer when it comes to other municipalities utilizing the services without paying to support them.

“Let’s not forget, that when a firefighter retires, they get a pension and taxpayers in Orangeville are paying into that pension,” he added. “You can argue surrounding them paying per call, but we are the ones who carry these people when they retire for the rest of their lives. For the surrounding townships, when a firefighter retires, they get to walk away from it. I propose that we put this on the shelf and use money for roads.”

While Councillor Scott Wilson felt that Councillor Kidd was on the right track, he indicated that he could not support the motion since they were facing an issue of safety, not just an additional vehicle.

“I have sympathy for Councillor Kidd’s position on this, and that’s why a couple of times I’ve sponsored motions to approach our neighbours at the County level to help support infrastructure,” he explained. “I won’t be supporting this motion tonight, as that’s a matter of safety in my view, but through the year if Mayor and Deputy could have discussions with County, we could see something to ease taxpayers’ burdens.”

Councillor Nick Garisto also felt that while the concerns were valid, safety was more important to consider when facing this specific request.

“In my opinion, it’s a safety issue, not just for our residents, but residents outside [Orangeville],” said Councillor Garisto. “If this pumper can save a life, there’s no value we can put on it to replace it. Our firefighters, our police; they are essential. I certainly hope Council will support the truck.”

However, Councillor Kidd still felt that this would be an issue with which to make a statement to the other municipalities. He brought up the fact that Chief Macintosh has been putting this item on the budget for years, and as a citizen he had always spoken against it, but previous councils never looked into alternative options to eventually putting the tanker truck on Orangeville taxpayers’ backs.

“We have to put our foot down and say enough,” he said. “We cannot support these outlying areas any longer. If my motion fails, I would hope that Deputy Mayor and Mayor will go to Mono, Amaranth and East Garafraxa and tell them that they have to start stepping up and supporting the citizens and the facilities in Orangeville. They want these facilities and [services] available to them, it’s time they start paying their fair share.”

The motion put forward by Councillor Kidd to remove the item from the Capital Budget failed by a vote of 6-1.

“I hear conversations around the table saying that we need to charge more, but how can we possibly charge them more if we can’t service them because the truck is no good?” asked Mayor Jeremy Williams. “I think we have to start thinking in the larger sense. It’s true people come to our arenas, and come to our facilities, but they’re also using our businesses.”

“We’re bringing in more money than we’re spending based on the figures we’re seeing from the Chief, and I support him having this truck. It’s something that’s needed, and we need to move on from this.”

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