BELMONT — After voters rejected the purchase of a used ladder truck at Tuesday's annual balloting, Deputy Fire Chief Sean McCarthy said the department would have to make do with their existing one.
A warrant article asking voters to raise and appropriate $300,000 with offsetting revenue from the Fire/Ambulance Special Revenue Account was defeated in an election that saw a majority of some 600 Belmont voters reject a number of warrant ariticles.
"We've just got to make (this truck) work," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the existing ladder truck is a 1988 and was purchased by Belmont Fire and Rescue in 2008 for $250,000. In previous selectman's meetings, Fire Chief David Parenti said a made-to-order new ladder truck can cost between $1 and 1.5-million and take eight to 11 months to build and deliver.
Right now he said the current truck is in service but has often been out-of-service for repairs. At this time, the pump is not working but he said firefighters have been able to use an external pump.
McCarthy said the department was avoiding spending too much money on repairs until after the March 10 vote.
He said it is due for a ladder check-up as well as a few other things that need to pass an inspection.
The Ambulance/Fire Special Revenue Account — or Comstar Account — was established pursuant to a state law created in 1994 that allowed communities to take the money from ambulance run revenue and put it in a special equipment account traditionally used as a way to gradually save money for large purchases like firetrucks and ambulances.
In Belmont the account is labeled Comstar because that is the name of the company that is hired to perform all of the ambulance billings.
Using an account like Comstar, say its proponents, means the town doesn't have to create capital reserve funds for large fire vehicle purposes or see wild swings in the municipal budget when they have to be replaced.
Detractors say the ambulance run money, much of paid through insurance carriers, would normally go into the general revenue account of the town and be appropriated as voters see fit.