By Edward Husar Herald-Whig Staff Writer The Quincy City Council on Monday authorized Fire Chief Scott Walker to see if he can find a deal on a new pumper truck for Engine Company 3. Walker said the existing pumper is 23 years old and has some severe structural problems. He asked the council to waive the usual bidding procedure so he can spend up to $260,000 to buy a new firetruck at a trade show this week in New Orleans. Walker said the new truck is expected to cost between $230,000 and $260,000. The council approved Walker's request on a 9-3 vote, with Aldermen Paul Havermale, R-3, Mike Farha, R-4, and Mike Rein, R-5, voting against the measure. The three expressed concern that Walker hasn't yet nailed down details on how the new apparatus will be financed. Earlier this year Walker had asked the council to include funding for a new firetruck in this year's capital budget because he knew the truck was deteriorating, but funding was not approved. Walker is now proposing that the city finance the truck either through a no-interest loan program offered by the state fire marshal's office or through a conventional bank loan. Walker said he learned this week that Quincy finished 64th or 65th in the fire marshal's loan competition, which awarded 63 loans to Illinois fire departments. However, Walker was told the city still stands a good chance of getting one of the loans because one or two of the approved departments will likely drop their request for a loan, thereby freeing up money for Quincy. But if that doesn't pan out, he said, the city can always get a conventional bank loan, which would carry an interest rate of about 4.5 percent. Meanwhile, Walker said, the Foreign Fire Tax Board has assured the QFD it would provide the city with enough upfront money to cover any loan repayment obligations through the first two years. Walker said that assurance buys the city some time to nail down a suitable loan deal. Walker said it's advantageous for the QFD to try to buy a new truck at the New Orleans trade show, where apparatus dealers typically offer attractive incentives to fire departments seeking a good deal on available equipment. He said it's not unusual for dealers to conduct "bidding wars" in an effort to secure a fire department's business. He feels this could work out better than trying to buy a truck through a conventional bidding process. Walker said it's possible the fire department could get a new truck within as little as two weeks if he can strike a deal with one of the representatives. The council's Finance Committee recommended the chief be authorized to proceed. Alderman Rick Smith, R-4, a member of the committee, said there is no question the fire department needs a new truck because the existing one is in bad shape. "It's a danger to the people who ride in it," he said. Smith said it's probably a good idea to buy a truck now instead of waiting until later, because the price is likely to keep going up. "I don't see it getting any cheaper," he said. Contact Staff Writer Edward Husar at ehusar@whig.com or (217) 221-3378

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