TAWAS CITY – The Tawas City Fire Department (TCFD) may be receiving a new pumper truck, given the action taken by council members – among other business – during their June 17 meeting.

Officials voted unanimously to award a bid to Halt Fire and Pierce Manufacturing, and to go with PNC Equipment Finance for a 10-year payment plan.

The Pierce brand Saber pumper truck has a price tag of $580,886, but the city will be able to take advantage of a couple different discounts.

City Manager Annge Horning pointed out that, in order to finance through Pierce, a resolution will have to be adopted at a future council meeting, and a public hearing will also need to be held to authorize said financing.

According to Horning, TCFD Chief Steve Masich sent out bid specifications for a new fire truck to four companies – E-One, Pierce, Seagrave and Sutphen. E-One and Sutphen did not respond to the request for proposals, while Seagrave sent a letter to the city advising that they would not be submitting a bid.

The one bid received was from Pierce, through Halt Fire.

“We have the opportunity to finance the purchase of the truck through Pierce in conjunction with PNC Equipment Finance. If we go with this option, Pierce will pay the full amount to Halt Fire at the time we order and we will receive a discount on the purchase price, bringing it down to $561,915.57,” Horning stated in her background memo to the council.

“Also with that option, our first payment would be due one year after the date the lease begins so we wouldn’t be paying anything until the 2020-21 fiscal year,” she added.

Horning told the council that this not only delays the payment a bit but, if they were to finance through a bank instead, the city would have to pay for the truck up front. “But the bank doesn’t have any collateral, so we are paying that first payment out of pocket until we get the truck a year later.”

She listed the following as additional items for the council to consider:

• The City of East Tawas is also purchasing a new fire truck and, if both cities enter into a contract with Pierce Manufacturing and Halt Fire before July 28, they will each receive a $9,500 discount, further reducing the purchase price.

(It was confirmed by East Tawas Fire Department Chief Bill Deckett that East Tawas has approved buying a new truck).

• It is estimated that Tawas City can get approximately $70,000 when selling the TCFD’s old pumper truck, which can then be put towards the new acquisition.

• The loan on the TCFD fire hall addition will be paid off in October 2020, which is four months after the first payment is due. Once this is paid off, it will free up $29,401 a year in the fire department’s budget which can be used toward the truck payment.

• City officials had previously discussed paying the first payment out of the fire equipment fund, so the general fund wouldn’t be impacted until at least the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Horning added that, depending  on where the equipment fund is at that point, this could probably be pushed back even a couple more years, especially if the other truck sells for $70,000.

The council had the option to enter into a 10-year payment plan – in the amount of $69,521 annually, at a rate of 4.07 percent for the new vehicle – or to engage in a 15-year plan for $51,569 annually, at a rate of 4.29 percent.

Masich was in attendance at the meeting, and Mayor Ken Cook said he knows the TCFD is in need of another truck.

Following the proposed purchase at hand, Masich said he hopes it will be at least another eight to 10 years before a new truck is needed for the department.

“If we stretch this to 15 years we’re going to have overlap,” Cook noted.

“It would be tough,” agreed Masich.

“We may want to bite the bullet on the larger payment and have a 10-year plan because it may match closer to when the next transaction is going to have to hit us,” Cook suggested, which is what the council ultimately agreed to.

In other matters, Horning filled officials in on the latest details of the Empowering Youth with Engagement Strategies (EYES) program.

As recently reported, the offering has been unanimously approved by city officials, and is geared toward local high school juniors and seniors.

The idea is to select a youth representative to serve on the city’s planning commission/parks board. The student will hold a nonvoting seat, but the goal is for he or she to become engaged in the community, expand their knowledge of municipal government, give input on important decisions regarding the future of the city, explain the city’s goals and vision to other local youth, assist in developing project ideas, gain leadership experience and more.

Further, the program will also provide the participant with a $500 scholarship toward their continued education.

Since the council last discussed EYES, Horning prepared a draft application form which was reviewed by officials at their latest meeting, and consensus was given that the document will suffice.

As for the scholarship portion of the program, Horning said she presented the EYES information to the planning commission at their June 4 meeting, and shared that she would be reaching out to Tawas City business owners to see if they would help support the $500 scholarship.

According to Horning, commission member Tracy Stevelinck said this program is exactly something that her dad – former city mayor Duane Walters – would have supported, as he was very passionate about getting youth involved in the community. Therefore, Stevelinck has offered to fully fund the scholarship.

Students looking to participate in EYES must submit their application by 5 p.m. on Sept. 17. More information can be had by contacting Horning at 362-8688, or via e-mail at manager@tawascity.org.

In separate business, the council also addressed the following:

• Entered into closed session to discuss a property transfer request. No action was taken on this topic, and no further talks were had when officials started their regular meeting back up.

• Were told by Horning that during the first week of June, the Department of Public Works placed large cement blocks along the beach and sidewalk on the south side of the pier in Tawas City Shoreline Park, in an effort to prevent erosion from hitting the sidewalk and grass area.

“Beyond this, our beach is practically nonexistent,” Horning stated. “With the rain and high wave action we got earlier this week, we were able to see that the temporary barricades are working well to prevent further erosion.”

• Approved a request from Disabled American Veterans Chapter 130 to sell forget-me-nots at Tawas City businesses, from July 1-3.

• Related to the item above, officials also gave consensus that routine, annual requests – such as those for tootsie roll drives, poppy sales and forget-me-not fundraisers – can be handled through city hall, and do not have to come before the council for a vote.

Horning advised that there is nothing in the city charter which says such items need to come to the council. She added that, should anything out of the ordinary be asked for beyond the routine requests, she will present it to council members.