Need for firetruck causing division
Hartselle leaders disagree on where purchase ranks on list
By Deangelo Mcdaniel
HARTSELLE — Council President Kenny Thompson and Mayor Dwight Tankersley agree that a new pumper truck for the Fire Department should be on the city’s capital improvement list.
But, the city’s two highest elected officials disagree on where buying the truck should rank.
Thompson wants the council to take between $330,000 and $350,000 from the city’s General Fund and purchase the truck.
Tankersley wants the council to look at all the city’s capital needs and prioritize them.
Thompson said the city should look at immediately making the purchase because Hartselle was down to one operable fire engine Monday.
“That’s true, but this situation existed for only about one hour,” Tankersley said.
“We’ve talked about buying a new firetruck for years,” Thompson said. “It’s time to stop talking and do something about it.”
A new fire truck has been on the city’s list of needs for at least five years. But, the mayor said there are more important needs at this time such as repairing Foote Road and getting sewer to city-owned property near Alabama 36 and Interstate 65.
“At this point, I’m not in favor of going into reserves and getting money to pay for a fire truck,” Tankersley said.
The mayor doesn’t vote, but the council majority shares his sentiment. They know that Hartselle will have to buy a new truck at some point.
“But, I’m not in favor of doing it in this budget,” Councilman Samie Wiley said. “I didn’t hear anything about this until Tuesday night.”
Wiley said the council should evaluate all the fire engines and determine what the problems are before making a purchase.
Like Wiley, Councilman Mark Mizell said getting sewer to I-65 is at the top of his capital improvement list.
“We bought the land, and we want people to be out there,” Mizell said. “If we don’t get sewer out there, we know they won’t come.”
Tankersley said Monday’s situation happened because one engine was having brakes repaired, while the pump failed on another. A third engine would crank, but wouldn’t stay started, he said.
The only operable engine was the ladder truck the previous administration purchased.
Fire Chief Steve Shelton has warned the council about Hartselle’s aging fleet. In June, the city had to tow a 20-year-old fire engine from a fire scene.
“We had just finished putting out the fire and the truck quit running,” Shelton said.
The city has tried to address needs in the Fire Department. Since 2003, Hartselle has spent more than $360,000 on fire equipment. This included a ladder truck, renovating Station 1, emergency response vehicles and new car for the fire chief.
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