WILTON — Voters at a special town meeting Tuesday approved spending up to $500,000 for a used firetruck. The vote was 32-27 by secret ballot at Academy Hill School.

The Fire Department looked at hundreds of truck over 16 months, Chief Sonny Dunham said.

“We’ve tried to see what the town needs and done a lot of homework,” he said.

A committee has looked at options such as purchasing a new aerial truck for $1.2 million or more, or contracting with Jay and/or Farmington fire departments for coverage costing an estimated $40,000 or $45,000, he said. The committee favored buying a used Quint truck because of all it can do, he said.

Some voters such as Dick Hall of East Dixfield questioned the need for the truck and whether it was wise to spend so much on a used one.

The size of some town buildings necessitates an aerial device, Dunham said. It’s also important to some of the town’s largest businesses, he said.

“Their insurance rates would skyrocket without one,” he said.

The research and surveys of businesses done by the Fire Truck Committee showed the importance of fire coverage, Tiffany Maiuri, selectperson and committee member, said. The larger businesses included Barclays, Jardens and Comfort Inn.

“They indicated they would stay but not expand,” she said.

Hall mentioned talk of consolidating fire departments because of the lack of manpower and asked why Wilton would purchase a truck before a decision is made.

Recent meetings have departments working together on training and purchasing equipment but consolidation is down the road, Dunham said.

Coverage from either Farmington or Jay leaves part of the town vulnerable because of travel distances, Maiuri said.

“The amount of money saved from contracting is negligible,” she said.

Insurance rates, both commercial and residential, depend on mileage and both towns are farther than 5 miles to parts of Wilton.

Both towns will only come if their aerial trucks are available, Dunham said.

“If the town turns this down tonight, we’ll have to talk to Farmington and Jay,” Selectperson Paul Berkey said. “They have given us quotes of $40,000 and $45,000 a year for coverage for something we might need once or twice. Businesses have told us they want coverage.”

A 10-year bond at 3.38 percent interest would amount to a nearly $60,000 payment each year for a $500,000 truck, Town Manager Rhonda Irish said. Of the $60,000, $25,000 could come from the town’s Tax Increment Financing fund.

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