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City budget includes funds for new fire truck

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Mayor says spending plan won’t raise tax rate

By BEN CARLSON

 The Lawrenceburg City Council gave a tentative nod last week to a new budget that will purchase a new fire truck.

The new truck will replace one that was purchased in the 1980s that is so unreliable it had to be towed away from a recent fire scene.

“That’s happened a couple of times,” said council member Steve Rucker, who chairs the city’s finance committee and proposed the new $5.6 million spending plan.

“We can’t, in good conscience, send volunteers to a fire scene with a truck in that condition. The water-pumping parts of the truck work, but getting it to the scene and back is a problem.”

The truck has significant electronic issues, and firefighters never know if lights and other emergency equipment are going to work when needed. It also has an open cab, which allows on two firefighters to ride inside. Others have to climb aboard and hang on.

“We have a policy in place so that no one rides back there,” Rucker said. “We wouldn’t want to go on a run down 127 going 55 mph to a fire scene. We can’t risk that.”

The proposed spending plan will take the fire department’s usually paltry budget from $237,000 in the current budget to just over $900,000, given the agency about $600,000 to purchase a truck and additional cash to update equipment and make needed repairs to the fire stations, including a new roof at Station 1.

“The guys have buckets sitting around in there when it rains,” Rucker said. 

The idea of buying a new fire truck isn’t new. Rucker said the council has been talking about it for several years. He said hoped-for grants never materialized, so he and fellow council member Joe Marshall, who also serves on the finance committee, decided to purchase a truck in the coming year.

“We put our heads together on this because we felt we could no longer wait.”

Mayor Troy Young said his office will continue working to find any available grant money to help offset the purchase, and that there is no need to raise property tax rates to pay for the truck.“We’ve done a lot of work to get be able to do this and not raise taxes,” said Rucker.