The Hull Volunteer Fire Department wants to use the city’s sales tax number to save money on a $319,000 truck purchase, but the city council wants more information before signing its name to the paperwork.
Hull leaders will make a decision at a called a March 22 meeting at 7 p.m.
At councilman Wayne Melton’s suggestion, the Hull City Council will review the fire department’s financial reports for the past two years, as well the HFD budget for the next 12 months before voting on the matter.
“I’m personally not opposed to it at all, but I would like to know for a fact that the Hull Fire Department can make the payments,” Melton said.
Hull fire chief Donnie Evans said he could make the figures requested by Melton available by Friday.
The fire department wishes to use Hull’s sales tax number to save the fire department $21,000 in sales taxes on the purchase. A non-profit organization like a volunteer fire department can’t get sales tax exemptions.
But should the Hull Fire Department be unable to pay for the truck, the city of Hull — with an annual $70,000 budget — doesn’t have enough money to assume responsibility of the truck.
“It’s $319,000 guys, this is not a couple thousand of dollars … We don’t have the funding to make those payments,” Melton said.
Evans said the money the HFD receives from the county would cover the annual $31,000 payments for the truck.
The county provides a base payment to each of the fire departments, then allocates additional funds based on number of fire calls and the fire district’s ISO rating (Hull is a “5”).
“For the last four years, Hull has got more than any fire department in Madison County,” Evans said.
The Hull Volunteer Fire Department also raises money independently and receives assistance from the city of Hull, which pays about $20,000 annually toward the fire department’s bills.
Mayor Paul Elkins said the city wants to support the fire department but to also “go on record as being financially sound in our conduct of our expenditures,” he said.
The fire department wishes to purchase a 2009 model truck that features a six-person cab and a 1,500 gallon-per-minute pump, which is larger than any of the department’s current truck pumps. Evans expects the truck will last 20 years. With a new truck, the HFD plans to sell one of the old trucks in the next year.
The fire department will put $75,000 down for the new truck.
Evans said the department has “saved as much money as possible” in anticipation of this down-payment.
The fire department has to make the purchase by the end of the month or the truck won’t be available. That means the HFD would have to purchase a 2010 model which costs $25,000 to $30,000 more.