Village covers fire truck costs

Officials dip into fund balance to pay for share of new vehicle that is expected to respond to all calls
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Belgium Village Board on Oct. 8 approved using its savings account to cover a shortage in its share of a new fire truck.

The Belgium Fire Department, which serves the village and the town, had received approval to replace a grass fire truck from both entities on Sept. 17.

The cost, originally estimated to be $75,000, came in at $89,264 because equipment came in higher than expected, Fire Chief Dan Birenbaum said.

“We were shocked,” he said.

The town and village agreed to split funding to cover $75,000 of the cost, with the fire department to make up the rest. The town will pay $43,405 (57.74%) and the village $31,695 (43.26%), with the breakdown based on equalized property value.

The village had budgeted $3,695 less for its portion. The board approved taking that money from its fund balance, essentially its savings account for emergencies.

The vote was 6-0 with Josh Borden abstaining.

“I’m going to abstain just because I am on the fire department,” he said.

After the vote, Trustee Clem Gottsacker asked if Village President Pete Anzia, also a member of the department, should have abstained as well.

“You don’t necessarily have to. I wouldn’t have had to,” Borden said. “I’m an officer on the fire department. That’s kind of why I abstained.”

“I guess I’m wearing a different hat tonight,” Anzia said.

At the joint village and town meeting with the fire department on Sept. 17, Anzia voted to approve funding the fire truck. Borden was absent.

The new vehicle — a $33,419 pickup truck from Ewald, which receives state bids —  will have nearly $56,000 of equipment added to it, including a $32,000 high-pressure pump that uses foam instead of water, which can do a better job than water to extinguish certain fires.

Other equipment includes bucket seats, warning lights and sirens, a winch and graphics package.

The new truck will respond to all calls and will be able to reach farmers’ fields that larger trucks cannot, Birenbaum said.

The department plans to cover some of its $14,000 share of the cost through the sale of its 1993 fire truck with 15,000 miles.

The town this month approved asking residents to exceed the state levy limits to cover its share of the cost, which would translate to a $30 tax increase on a $200,000 home.

“I think it was a fair agreement that all three of us could live with and the taxpayers can live with,” Town Chairman Tom Winker said of the agreement between the village, town and department.

“Thirty dollars I don’t think is going to kill anybody,” he said.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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