After months of discussion on the budget and deliberation, city council members voted to approve the purchase of a new fire truck during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Weatherford Fire Chief Paul Rust told the council he had allowed his firefighters, as part of an apparatus committee, to determine what exactly should be on the truck, saying it made sense to “let those who use the truck actually design it.” Rust said the department was excited because the vehicle was a newer model that many departments up north have but not so many down here.
He said the new truck, a custom pumper, will replace Engine 3. He said many of the safety advances include rollover protection and airbags.
“As engines get older they become obsolete,” Rust said. “Accidents are also the number two cause of firefighter death or injury, so some of the newer advances will help protect against that.”
The engine also has a shorter wheel base, allowing the truck to get into tighter areas and make maneuvering easier. The truck will cost $528,000, but the department is receiving $35,000 in trade for Engine 3, making the cash outlay approximately $493,000, Rust said.
In budget discussions earlier this year, the council weighed the options of paying for the engine in one full payment or entering into a lease agreement.
Councilmembers also approved an interlocal agreement between the city and Parker County to provide fire and rescue services to a portion of unincorporated areas surrounding the city.
Rust said the city has been doing this for years but needs to make sure it is as cost neutral to the city as possible to help out the county’s 15 other fire departments. He met with the chiefs of the other departments and came up with a figure of $61,976, approximately $23,500 above last year’s cost.
“The monies from last year weren’t enough,” Rust said. “We began looking at things such as call volume to determine the monies we needed to make it cost neutral.”
Councilmembers authorized City Manager Jerry Blaisdell to execute an agreement with Freese and Nichols, Inc. to update the city parcel data and billing information with the Storm Water Utility System at a cost not to exceed $307,067. Director of Capital Transportation Projects Terry Hughes said the parcels for new residential and commercial areas are easy to determine but some areas of town, including the downtown area and some parts of Fort Worth Highway, aren’t as cut and dried because in many cases plats were never filed there.
“If I can’t determine the property line it could result in some issues on what area belongs to whom and cost more time on the project,” Hughes said. “We want to make sure the billing system is correct when we do this.”
Billing for the storm water utility, which will begin in January is expected to bring in around $600,000 the first year. Hughes said it should take about six months to work out all the issues.
“We will implement the residential and commercial areas as we know them and bill them accordingly,” Hughes said. “We will adjust as we need to and find out more information.”
Hughes also stated that renters will be assessed the same $3 a month residential fee as homeowners. The fee will be included with the monthly utility bill.
The contract monies will be taken out of the General Fund budget and put into the storm water utility fund and repaid as monies from the storm water utility fee begin coming in.