By Roz Kohls
DASSEL, MN Dassel City Council still wants the $491,900 pumper truck from Custom Fire Apparatus of Osceola, WI, despite the 30-member fire department voting down accepting the bid. Mayor Ava Flachmeyer estimated last Monday the pumper truck from Custom Fire Apparatus might save Dassel up to $100,000 if the city orders it this year.
Fire Chief Dale Grochow said it appeared two-thirds of the members who objected to the bid from Custom Fire Apparatus, turned it down because it was the only bid the department received Dec. 5, and not because of the pumper truck’s specifications.
Firefighters wanted to be able to compare prices for the truck’s various features, such as the 1,500-gallon-per-minute pump, four-door extra-long chassis cab, interior top-mounted pump system, 1,000-gallon booster tank, and stainless steel body, with other manufacturers’ prices, Grochow said.
Some firefighters objected to the price of the truck, and others objected to the truck itself, he said.
Firefighters will have additional price information to review at a special meeting, possibly Tuesday, Dec. 23, Grochow said.
The council also will meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29, to make a final decision whether to buy the pumper truck.
There are four reasons why the pumper truck from Custom Fire Apparatus would be a good deal if purchased this year, according to City Administrator Myles McGrath.
First, new requirements for pumper trucks will kick in during 2009 that the truck committee, DJ Ohm, Kurt Mortenson, Brian Massingham, Erin Tormanen and Grochow doesn’t want or doesn’t think the department needs, Grochow said. They include more stringent standards for emissions and stability, longer seatbelts, storage for helmets in the cab, a diesel particulate filter for the chassis, and new testing for foam systems, he said.
These extra items will add $20,000 to $30,000 to the cost of the pumper truck in 2009, according to McGrath.
Second, if the pumper is ordered now, Dassel will get financing from the USDA at a 4.5 percent interest rate. If the city waits and leases the truck, the rate will range between 6 to 7.4 percent, McGrath said.
Third, the $491,900 cost is at the low end of the range for pumper truck prices, he said.
Finally, the $491,900 total cost is within the city’s budget for the unit. The city currently has accumulated $76,000 in the fire department equipment fund, McGrath said.
McGrath said it wasn’t unusual for cities to receive only one bid, a bid from the same company that provided a representative to help the fire department write the specifications for the unit. Cities usually buy a fire truck only once every 15 years, and need professional guidance on what is needed, he said.
The other fire equipment manufacturers are probably focused on bidding to the cities they assisted, McGrath added.
The pumper the department is replacing is 15 years old and pumps at a slower rate, 1,000 gallons-per-minute, compared to the truck in the proposal.
The truck committee proposed specifications of a 34-foot-long truck, a six-person cab, a tip-down rack for the ladder, and overall height 11 feet so it fits inside the fire hall doors.
Levy, budget for 2009 adopted
The city council adopted the 2009 levy at $511,988, a 9.1 percent increase from 2008; and a $1.1 million budget.
In the fall, Flachmeyer said the city was looking for ways to reduce the levy before it was formally adopted.
However, the League of Minnesota Cities predicted that Dassel will receive a cut in local government aid ranging from $9,800 to $52,000. The city was expecting $194,000 in aid, McGrath said.
As a result, the city will keep the levy at what was proposed in September.
The city is not required to spend every dollar in the budget, however.
“The budget is never set in stone,” McGrath said.
Dassel will have no overtime for public works employees, and all capital expenses for 2009 will be suspended, McGrath added.
Bike path maintenance
Representatives from the City of Dassel met Dec. 2 with representatives from the City of Cokato, the Dassel-Cokato School District, and Dassel and Cokato townships, to plan the $70,000 estimated maintenance for the five miles of bike path between Dassel and Cokato. It was proposed that the five entities each pay $14,000 for maintenance, McGrath said.
According to the original 1994 project agreement, Dassel is responsible only for the portion of the bike path within the city limits. McGrath advised, because of expected budget constraints in 2009, that Dassel sticks to its original agreement.
Odds and ends
In other business the council:
• paid $50,974 to Hjerpe Construction for work done on watermain construction for the new water tower.
• hired Bob Hedin of Tri-County Flooring of Dassel for $7,620, the lowest bid, to install ceramic tile in the restrooms of the Universal Laboratories museum expansion. Hedin also will install a $1,925 membrane under the tile.
• approved a joint resolution with Dassel Township to annex the Michael and Leslie Corcoran property along Highway 12, on the east side of Dassel.
• accepted a $75,000 donation from Dassel Township for the building project in the Universal Laboratories building, and approved a long-term lease with the township to use the building for township functions and meetings.
• transferred ownership of the east side of the municipal liquor store building to the Dassel Economic Development Authority, so the building’s current unused status won’t count against the Dassel Liquor Store’s budget.
• approved the Dassel-Cokato Community Education Joint Powers agreement that states Dassel will pay $7,370 annually to the program.