Oxford selectmen mull half-million-dollar fire truck purchase

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OXFORD — Selectmen threw cold water on a proposal by the fire chief to purchase a new, state-of-the-art firetruck for a half million dollars until they receive alternative bids. 

Oxford fire Chief Scott Hunter told selectmen Thursday night that the proposal to buy a new, rather than used, truck was the culmination of almost a year of committee deliberations assessing the impact on taxpayers. 

At nearly $498,000, the price tag was high but farsighted for a growing town, Hunter said. 

“Our call volume 10, 15 years in the future won’t be what it is today. If you’re going to spend that kind of money, you need to look down the road,” Hunter said.

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Most of the department’s trucks were purchased used from other towns. However, with current repair and replacement schedules, the alternative was purchasing a new truck now or replacing almost $2.6 million in equipment in coming years, according to Hunter. 

Over the past several years, the town has amassed a reserve fund for the purchase of a new truck, but would still have to draw upon the town’s general fund to pay for the equipment, according to Town Manager Michael Chammings. 

Chammings said he was concerned there was only one bid, leaving selectmen little to compare. 

“That would be great if that’s what you wanted me to do, but we never had approval to send this out to bid,” Hunter said.

The proposal has not gone out to bid. Committee members analyzing the purchase met with three vendors, one of whom informally provided a quote. Hunter said he submitted that quote to the board because Chammings had not authorized him to pursue bids. 

Hunter said purchasing the truck’s chassis and cab from a single vendor was convenient, while the custom construction would be serviceable at local specialized mechanics. 

Selectmen authorized Hunter to pursue other bids and present them at their next board meeting. 

ccrosby@sunjournal.com

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