Canton Selectmen Endorse Plan to Purchase Two Fire Engines

Proposal would require some funding from town reserves, approval of finance board, residents needed.

While the town had prepared to replace one fire engine this fiscal year, selectmen on Monday endorsed a plan to purchase two. Approval from the Board of Finance and voters would still be needed.

The reason for the needed approval is that the low bid cost to replace two engines is $899,000, which is approximately $275,000 more than the capital funding the town has set aside for fire apparatus. Those remaining funds would come from the town’s reserves.  

The town anticipates it could get some money from selling the two engines being replaced but the exact amount would have to be determined and the funds would go back into the capital account for apparatus replacement.

As the town recently put out a bid to replace a “Class A Pumper,” town of Canton Volunteer Fire and EMS Department officials asked that an option for two be included in the estimates.

The department gave several reasons for the idea of replacing two at once, specifically its Engine 6, which is approximately 20 years old and its Engine 1, approximately 25.

Engine 6 is the more critical replacement, Deputy Chief Craig Robbins told selectmen. The apparatus has corrosion issues, intermittent electrical problems and needs new rear springs and brakes, exhaust, brake lines and pump repairs.

Engine 1 has been more reliable but is starting to show its age and in the past years has needed rear brakes and drums, an alternator, front suspension, steering components and batteries, Robbins said. It will also likely need a complete pump rebuild in the next year, estimated at $10,000.

Fire officials felt replacing both at once could result in some savings as well as get the town’s replacement plan back on schedule. In 2009, at Chief Administrative Officer Robert Skinner’s request, the department suggested the town put aside $160,000 per year for new apparatus but the town has allotted $115,000 per year.

"For that reason we strongly feel that replacing the two trucks is the right way to go,” Robbins said.

The lowest bidder for the project put the replacement for two engines is $899,000, while one would be $458,632.

“I’m disappointed; I thought we’d see more significant savings than $17,000,” First Selectman Richard Barlow said.

Selectmen also expressed some concerns about dipping again into the fund balance when they are already asking residents on Dec. 12 to approve $400,000 in improvements to Mills Pond Pool.

“I wish it had hit the table the same time as the pool,” selectmen Lowell Humphrey said.

Assuming the pool funding were to pass, Chief Financial Officer Amy O’Toole estimates the fund balance at $4,548,354, about 13.22 percent of the town’s 2012-2013 budget.

“I guess I’m not in favor of going back to the well but given the circumstance I guess I can see it,” Barlow said.

Selectmen unanimously approved the idea. The Board of Finance will discuss the matter in a special meeting Monday night and, if passed, selectmen hope to bring it to the public on Dec. 12, the same night as the proposed pool improvements. 

Andrew Ziemba November 27, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Taxation is theft. If any theft should occur, it should be very minimal and widely accepted as tolerable. You can not have a low tax system when there are government monopolies on such massive aspects of life such as roads and schools. Unfortunately, since those who run government control the media, you have a never ending cycle of uneducated people who lack critical thinking skills. This is exactly the way that the powers that be want it to be. I am fairly sure that you know all of this even if you do not want to publicly admit it. So to answer your question, I would replace the current system that we have with freedom. The free entrepreneur will settle it all out in the long run. None of this can come to pass by simply altering taxes though. Just as this country has fallen into a deep black hole slowly over the course of a century, it will take some time before we become a free country again.
Andrew Ziemba November 27, 2012 at 08:48 PM
It's going to get a lot worse before it gets a lot better. It's going to be very difficult to be a home owner because taxes will continue to go up sharply in the coming years. The worst part is when we have hyperinflation because then your house will just be taken away when you can't afford to pay the taxes due to inflation.
Betty November 27, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Canton is very dependant on residential property tax. The goal suggested this year is to go from an 85% residential tax to an 80% residential tax. At the rate we are going I wonder if we will be hitting a 90% residential tax before we hit an 80%residential tax. We need to become a more business friendly town to the take pressure off residential property owners.
Wyatt November 27, 2012 at 09:52 PM
@Andrew. For someone speaking of critical thinking skills, the answer "freedom" is lacking. If no taxes, then what would you replace the system with?
Andrew Ziemba November 28, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Property tax should be zero. How can it be said that you own something you are constantly renting from the government? Try refusing to pay your property tax and see what happens. Most of it goes to brainwash the youth into becoming followers instead of leaders. No wonder we are a nation of clipped wing pigeons desperately looking left and right for our next free lunch rather than embracing freedom from the chains around our necks.
Wyatt November 28, 2012 at 02:40 PM
@Andrew. How do you propose to pay for town services without a property tax? Income tax? sales tax?
Andrew Ziemba November 28, 2012 at 03:55 PM
For some reason my commend is still pending from yesterday, so I will simplify it. If you want a service, you pay for the service. If you don't want the service, you don't pay for the service. This means private roads, private libraries, private sport fields, private parks. Pay to use, or don't use. Better service for less cost. More freedom to invest your own money in yourself.
Wyatt November 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM
@Andrew. Thanks for the reply. I think you suggestion would be one of the most transformative steps this country could take. It would fundamentally change the role of government and government services. On a local level, I think your idea is practical - can't drive on a town road without paying a yearly membership and schools, libraries, parks, etc can easily charge a membership or tuition. A plus is that you only get what you pay for. The drawback would be that people of lower incomes may end up being excluded from such services - services they now benefit from. You may be fine with that, but its something to consider. However, on a federal level, things get more complicated. How would you fund things like FDA food safety programs? pollution control? or national defense? I'm not clear on how I would pay for such things other than through a tax. If there is a DoD membership program, the free rider effect would likely severely limit any participation. Would you keep such programs and if so, how would they be funded?
Betty November 28, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Route 44 has gone by many names and has seen many transformations. It was originally a privately owned toll road. I have heard of communities that have required a school tax to use the school system. Joseph Danajovits, Barry Dickstein, Elliot Bryan and Anne Raftery produced a great deal of helpful information while they were on the EDA. Their open letters to the town, I believe, are still on the town web site and they hold good information if you are interested in Canton and taxes. They also conducted many really informative interviews. I was reading one of their interviews last night from April 2011. Here are some facts from that interview: For each commercial tax dollar, 32 cents is the cost and 68 cents is the profit for the town that can be applied to schools and other programs and services. By comparison, houses cost the town money. The town spends $1.10 for every $1 in property taxpaid by a residence, in large part because of the cost of public education. People don't realize the cost per student and the cost of running this town and where the money comes from. It would be great to see an update of this study about the cost of community serves once the roofs, multipurpose track and field, pool, fire trucks, roads, town garage, and what ever else is added by July 2013.
Andrew Ziemba November 28, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Clearly we would have to abolish many wasteful federal departments. Obviously the FDA (which does far more harm than good) would be one of these to abolish. Most government departments act only as a corporatist management branch which is married to large corporations, taking tax dollars from the poor and middle class and forcefully distributing it amongst the most corrupt companies. College, pharmaceutical, and military industrial complexes are excellent examples. Solyndra is a fantastic example of the fruits of the overpaid government labor to support it. The only possible time that a government may have some forcible influence upon you could be if we go to war. If we had a draft again, there would be no war in Iraq. There would be no war in Afghanistan. They would probably not even be talking about Iran. I would be the first to sign up for a draft if OUR HOME COUNTRY was invaded. The founders had it MOSTLY correct, and that is saying a lot considering how long ago those days were, and how we have REGRESSED since then. I firmly believe that anyone who loves freedom, reads politically incorrect, but factually spot on history, and does not have a vested interest in infringing on someone's rights will ultimately come to the same conclusion that I have - If each of us follow the golden rule in all that we do, we can reach as close to utopia as possible.
Andrew Ziemba November 28, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I have said it before and I will say it again. Take all of the money that goes from the budget to public education. ALL public education. Pensions, maintenance, transportation, all of it. Then divide that number by the number of kids. That is how much each student is charged on average. Compare the numbers to how much it would cost to privately educate, or the amount you could save by home schooling. The numbers are shocking. If each family had to pay their total amount, they would all withdraw their children the next day. Unfortunately, just like everything else in society, the true burden is spread out over a large number of people and so it looks so innocent. Let's not even get started on those who rent and then send 4 children to school.
Wyatt November 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM
@Andrew. Ok. I see where you are coming from. However, setting aside government programs you deem "wasteful" what federal or state government programs would you keep (if any) and how would those be funded if not by taxes?
Wyatt November 30, 2012 at 02:28 PM
@Andrew. I guess I'm not getting an answer, am I?
Andrew Ziemba November 30, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Sorry that you misunderstood what I said in its entirety. Everything I have said applies to the federal government as well. Freedom and the entrepreneur solves all problems better than government. None of these changes will happen until people change their opinions of what the role of government should be. After 4 more years of Obama, I think the tides will continue to turn in favor of freedom as the youth is now rapidly joining the Ron Paul platform. The number of people under the age of 30 who are in favor of his message has skyrocketed. Actually, the establishment is losing the information war. It's one of the prime reasons that the establishment wishes to control the internet and silence the message of freedom.
Wyatt November 30, 2012 at 04:31 PM
@Andrew. Oh well, would have been nice to actually have a discussion of the issue. I guess all I'll continue to get is fluff with no substance.
bp November 30, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I find it hard to believe we would only save 2% by purchasing 2 trucks at once and how can we make the decision without knowing the fair market value of selling our current ones? If we waited a year or two to sell Engine 1 which we just dumped a bunch of money into in repairs, I hope we could earn more on our money than the slight amount of savings from purchasing two trucks. Why not buy one now for $458,000 which leaves $165,000 in the fund, and repair Engine 1 for $10,000. If we sold Engine 6 for even $100,000 (approx 20% of a new truck) and kept saving $115,000 a year, we would be able to replace it in 2 years, not to mention the money earned from selling Engine 6 that would help replenish the reserves. We would not need to raid the town's reserve today. And Andrew, we live in the TOWN of Canton. Perhaps you should move and start your own town that has no schools and emergency services. Don't forget your house is worth more because our schools are highly respected.
Andrew Ziemba November 30, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I'm sorry that you feel that way. I don't think I am offering any fluff to you. You can disagree with my opinion of what the role of government should be, but I am not dodging any questions. I believe almost everything the government does is harmful but particularly the laws and regulations that bring unintended consequences. Through the free market, we know and can easily predict the unintended consequences, and when we don't, the one who loses is the individual who risked their own time, money, and effort. I can understand why you may have the beliefs that you do. Many people oppose the beliefs that I am suggesting we follow. I encourage you to check out The Lew Rockwell Show, and The Peter Schiff Show, and Alex Jones. These are great resources to learn about why I have the beliefs that I do. They are all free. I think you would enjoy!
John Fitts (Editor) November 30, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Hi BP. I hesitated to give out these numbers yet because I am not sure they are firm but there has been some research into selling the old engines. The estimate for Engine 1 was between $5,000 and $10,000. The reason for the low number was that the open jump seats do not meet current standards. The department has so far received estimates between $35,000 and $50,000 for Engine 6.
Wyatt November 30, 2012 at 05:07 PM
@Andrew. Don't be sorry, and don't jump to conclusions. I don't disagree with your opinions - I'm simply trying to understand how you would implement them in the real world. Ideas are just that unless there is an application for them or a realistic path forward in implementing them. The two questions you dodged are from an earlier post - which federal or state government programs would you keep (if any) and how would those be funded if not by taxes? These questions are crucial due to your earlier statement that taxes are theft. If taxes are theft and not valid, I'm curious how you would replace them. If you wouldn't replace them, I'm curious how government would function, if at all. As I mentioned earlier, I see the private sector taking over many roles of government but not all. It is these other roles of government (i.e. defense) that I'm most interested in discussing.
John Fitts (Editor) November 30, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Also while the savings for purchasing the two at once were low, the department was able to get lower prices than the company originally proposed. It's not up to me to decide whether the town should do this but did want to point it out. Those who are really interested can get all the related documents at Town Hall. I will also try to post a copy of the main points here.
bp November 30, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Thanks John. Taking out the resale value of the trucks, we could still replace Engine 6 with the money we have now which appears to be the priority and have enough to replace Engine 1 in 3 years (reserving $115k/yr) years while still having about $10,000 a year on hand for repairs. I guess what is frustrating is to my knowledge, the town does not report or focus on the big picture. What is the status of the entire fleet and what will we need to provision for over the next 10 years? It seems like everything is always an emergency and there is a lack of long term planning.
John Fitts (Editor) November 30, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Folks I am thrilled to tell you that the new version of Patch that is coming in mid December will allow for the creation of groups. They can be public or by invite only. We'd love it if someone wanted to start one on government philosophy. It's not something everyone would have to read but would be a great place to discuss these issues. I'm not saying you can't do it here but just wanted to let you know. The new features won't detract from our main news section but open up new possibilities. John
Andrew Ziemba November 30, 2012 at 06:51 PM
I would like to see nearly every single department eliminated. I do believe that our government is responsible for national defense, but not international offense...Particularly undeclared, and or secret wars and covertly overthrowing sovereign nations. Ron Paul truly explains things very well when he talks about making cuts. The process, when the time comes, will need to be very gradual though. I can't stress that enough. There is no way to immediately end all government welfare, particularly for the disabled, and elderly. I do have very little sympathy for unemployment benefits for the unemployed however. Jesse Ventura says it very simply when it comes to bringing back the draft. He believes we should bring back the draft. We could never again have career servicemen and woman. I can't tell you how many people I personally know who said "well I can't find a job so I guess I will just join the military." It has become a "job". Ground troops serve nearly no legitimate purpose for war nowadays now that we have M.A.D. The modern weapons that we are capable of using make the whole argument of national defense much less important than the days where someone would storm your castle. The vast majority of people agree all around the world. The best way to live in a peaceful and prosperous planet is to live and let live.
Andrew Ziemba November 30, 2012 at 07:11 PM
The other thing I would include, since you asked about proper application beyond simply the concept for how things should be run, is that history has shown us what has worked and what has failed. If you look back through history and say "why was America so successful then?" If you can acknowledge that it was most successful because of entrepreneurs and raw capitalism, then you can see why we need to return to those principles. If you can see that that's why America was so successful then, then you can see that government is the problem, not the solution. You can see that back then, things were much, much closer to the way that I am suggesting they should be. The less government, the more prosperity. People work harder because they have to work harder. People make something of themselves because otherwise they will fail. This is what history has shown us. Of course it has also shown us that we became successful because we were a Republic, not a Democracy, like so many claim we are today. Democracy is evil. Anyone who follows local news knows that there is literally zero application of principles of a Republic. Everything is done by popular vote regardless of if it is constitutional or not. Only recently have people begun to stand up against insane unconstitutional "ordinances" and many other wicked tools used by local government.
Ryan December 01, 2012 at 07:59 PM
bp, Both Engine 1 and 6 are 20 years old or older. And they are both showing their age. 5 months into the fiscal year 40% of the repair budget has gone to these trucks just to get them to pass pump testing and DOT inspection. If only one engine is purchased engine one will move to a station that it is not as well suited for. But by purchasing 2 trucks, it allows for a different plan that would almost guarantee an extension in the life span of the busiest truck in the fleet and move a better suited engine to the north end of town. This plan also puts the truck replacement plan back on track instead of pushing the next oldest apparatus to almost 30 years old before it will be replaced. Also the chassis manufactures raise price 4 times a year so the chassis could be up to $32,000 more expensive in two years. While this plan may seem expensive now, it is the most economical in the long term.
Wyatt December 03, 2012 at 06:18 PM
@Andrew. Thanks for the responses. I appreciate your passion and faith and understand that you see an extremely limited role for the government. Yet how would you fund that extremely limited government - defense? admin(i.e. Congress's electric bills?), etc? Also, do you really see no role for government in transportation? I fail to see how that would work...
Andrew Ziemba December 03, 2012 at 09:19 PM
For the limited amount of government that I would envision, I believe a consumption based tax system is the most fair way to be taxed. I do believe roads should be privatized.
Wyatt December 03, 2012 at 10:01 PM
@Andrew. I agree with you on the consumption tax. It is better to tax spending than savings, investment or labor. On roads, I can see them being privatized but only with some sort of government planning oversight/regulation.
Benevolus December 06, 2012 at 02:24 AM
The average salary of a paid firefigther is $55,000 per year plus benefits the employer has to pay. Canton's Fire Department is 100% Volunteer with a very low paid per call benefit as a retention tool. For a town the sides of Canton you will need to staff each firehouse with 8 to 10 firefigthers to cover 24/7. So 24 fireman at $55,0000 will be $1,320,000; to that you should add the cost for officers to managed each firehouse, Chiefs, Captains and LTs. We are probably talking around $2,000.000 a year. as an example check the police department budget. I AM deeply disturbed by the fact that Canton will rather expend money on tracks, pool and other non essencials and we do it to improved our community and for a brighter future for our kids, but when it comes to emergency equipment that will protect the lifes of the people protecting the citizen's lifes for free, we get 40 plus negative comments on this blog. I have been a member of the fire department for almost 10 years but I will gladly give my turnout gear to any person that wants it and think they can do a better job for free and will be willing to go into an extructure fire on a hose connected to a 30 years old truck with pumps problems so you can save couple bucks. And Fred you already an avid scanner listener and looks like to have a good plan on how to manage the fire department, please stop at any firehouse any monday around 7pm and any of our members will be happy to give you an application to join the department.
Ryan December 07, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Fred, what is heard through the scanner is not everything. There are a few issues that we have. With the way things are these days, it usually takes multiple apparatus to get the manpower required to take care of even the most simple calls. I cannot recall the last time that every truck has responded to one call. That simply does not happen. There is a point in a vehicles life where the repairs start to mount to a point where it is more cost effective to replace the vehicle as opposed to paying for continued repairs. That is true with every vehicle on the road and both of these engines are to that point. At $50k a year that would allow for a new truck every 8-10 years meaning that each truck would have to last about 70 years. The fund rate was recommended to be $160k a year which would give a truck a life cycle of about 20-25 years. This life cycle allows for the trucks to be replaced before they start to cost too much to repair, which is where these two engines are now. The replacement budget to this point has been funded at $115k a year. This extra purchase would put the fleet back on track to be replaced in a proper time frame as opposed to 30 plus years. If you would like to be part of the solution feel free to come down and put in an application. We always welcome the help. All of the departments requests and actions are made in the interest of providing the best possible protection to the town and its residents.


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