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Town ponders fire truck purchase

FARMINGTON "" The Farmington Board of Aldermen have begun researching what they need to do for the purchase of a new fire truck.

In a special meeting of the Farmington Mayor and Board of Aldermen Tuesday evening, aldermen made a motion to begin the process that would aid them in the purchase of a new fire truck for the Farmington Volunteer Fire Department.

The special meeting was a continuation of the regular board meeting held last week where discussion of the purchase of the truck was tabled following a presentation by FFD Chief Jeremy Childers.

Prior to last week's meeting, the fire chief had advised the board that the FFD had received a $90,000 award letter in response to the FFD's Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Assistance Program grant application.

During the previous meeting, Childers provided the board with choices and information regarding the purchase. He gave three potential options beginning with the lowest cost option up to the most costly, along with the pros and cons of each choice.

The choices were — Commercial Chassis Pumper, Custom Chassis Pumper and a Quint Ladder.

While the Quint truck was the highest initial cost option, Childers pointed out that it has a lifespan of 20 (with the potential for an additional five) years; it could lower the insurance rating by up to two points and it would serve a dual purpose as both a ladder and a pumper.

The fire chief also made mention of the fact that Farmington assists with more of Alcorn County outside of the City of Farmington and the Quint truck and better insurance class rating would look good to industry seeking to expand into the area. He specifically mentioned the RailHub.

Along with the $90,000 RFTAAP grant, Childers had said that one of FFD's current trucks would be sold to help pay for the new truck. He figured $55,000 as a reasonable estimate for what could be received for that vehicle.

The remaining cost for the truck would be Commercial Chassis Pumper — $255,000, Custom Chassis Pumper — $358,000 and $571,000 for the Quint Ladder.

During Tuesday's special meeting, the mayor and aldermen went into executive session for nearly 45 minutes to discuss the city's best options and Farmington Alderman Jeff Patterson presented the board's choice to the fire chief.

In analyzing the situation, the board felt it was a better option to go with at least the mid-range option with the longer lifespan for the truck. They looked at all the options, but the issue he said they kept coming across was the possibility of taxing Farmington city residents "" which is about 900 homes "" for a truck which will serve the Farmington fire district, which is roughly 42 square miles and encompasses an area outside the city limits. He pointed out that there are just under 3,000 homes district-wide, based on the information Childers provided. They added that the higher cost options would be outside the scope of their ability to finance.

"We are less than one-third of everybody in the fire district," said Patterson, addressing the fire chief. "Our responsibility is to our people that live here. We're going to support you guys the best that we can, but I want to be fair. I don't want anybody to be taxed any more than they have to be."

Patterson said they would like to bring a different option before the Alcorn County Board of Supervisors, which is the possibility of using Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds. He added that, as far as he knew, there had never been a TIF fund before locally and it would require some research.

However, if used, a TIF fund would be an annual flat rate which would only be applied to those in the Farmington Fire District for the length of time it would take to pay for the fire truck.

"The beauty of it is that Farmington city taxes will not go up. Their county tax will, but it will only go up the same as everyone that is affected and served by the new truck," said Patterson.

Farmington City Clerk Debbie Jackson pointed out that a TIF fund does not go up based on the assessed value of a home/property. She said it is a flat rate and it is the same for everyone.

"I think this is the only way we can do it and be equal and fair across the board," said Farmington Alderman Lowell Gann.

"We just want everybody to pay for their fair share and it will take the county supervisors understanding what has to take place," said Patterson.

The aldermen agreed that they would look into what would need to be done to make TIF funds a possibility.