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Kittanning council decides not to raid fire apparatus fund

| Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011

KITTANNING — Borough council decided Monday not to use money from its fire apparatus fund to make payments on Hose Co. 1's ladder truck for the next eight months while the department accumulates money to make monthly payments.

Council said it will continue investigating the sale of Hose Co. 1's ladder truck after rejecting the motion last night in a 5-2 vote with one abstention.

Council members Lisa McCanna and Cindy Housley voted to move the money, and members Joie Pryde, Tom Close, Andy Peters, Richard Reedy and Chris Schiano voted against the motion. Councilman Ange Turco abstained because he was unable to attend a meeting last week at which Hose Co. 1 presented a plan that would allow the fire company to retain ownership of the truck.

McCanna asked council at the end of the meeting to rethink the issue.

"Things always could be readdressed," she said. "Knee-jerk reactions are never the best. I hope everybody thinks about it to themselves in the next couple weeks."

In a turnaround from what seemed to be a positive work session Thursday between Hose Co. 1 representatives and council, rejection of the company's plan was a disappointmen,t said spokesman Gerald Shuster. The issue is not dead, he said, and the company will continue with a fundraiser planned for next weekend.

Council voted 5-2 in June to investigate selling the ladder truck it purchased for Hose Co. 1 in 2006 for $646,951 as a means to cut expenses. A work session was held Thursday to discuss the situation and possible resolutions. The company presented a plan to assume payments of one of the loans, and council discussed possibly using a portion of its fire apparatus fund.

The truck was purchased using three methods — $92,000 from the borough's fire apparatus fund, a state loan for $150,000 and a Farmers Bank loan for $404,000. Hose Co. 1 indicated last week that it wished to take over the state loan's monthly payments of $965 after eight to 10 months to accumulate the funds.

The borough's loan payments for the truck total about $4,000 monthly. As of the end of June, the remaining balance on the loans was about $454,000.

McCanna made a motion last night to use at least $30,000 from the borough's $42,000 fire apparatus fund to make payments on the state loan until the hose company has the funds to assume the payments — about eight to 10 months. She suggested raising taxes by one mill to build the apparatus fund back up in the event of an emergency with any of the borough's three fire companies.

"We need (the truck) for our community and all the other communities," she said.

Reedy urged council to vote against the motion. There was little discussion other than McCanna stating her rationale for making her motion.

"We will seek to sell the truck," Schiano said after the vote.

Before the vote, Turco had sought to table the motion in order to study the hose company's proposal. That motion was turned down by a 6-2 vote, with him and Close voting to table the issue.

Mayor Kirk Atwood commended council's vote against using the fire apparatus fund, citing another tax increase that could loom to replenish the fund.

"We're talking about almost 20 percent that we've increased taxes in the past two years," he said.

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