Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Managing Editor 

Cheney approves $600,000 state loan for fire engine

 


Cheney’s purchase of a new main attack engine for its fire department is officially paid for.

At its June 12 meeting, the City Council voted 7-0 to approve an ordinance with all three readings and final passage authorizing execution of a financing contract with the state treasurer’s office to receive $600,000 loan from the state’s LOCAL fund. The council then followed that with unanimous approval of a resolution stating the entire purchase of the engine — approved by council last October — will be made from revenues in the city’s general fund, which will be reimbursed from the LOCAL program.

The council agreed to purchase the Rosenbauer fire engine from supplier General Fire for $750,000 – $800,000, applying $200,000 it had set aside from annual emergency services levy lid lift revenues that were approved by voters in November 2015 essentially as a down payment. The engine is estimated to be delivered in 8 – 10 months from the original approval.

Finance Department Director Cindy Niemeier said the city will carry the LOCAL loan for 13 years. As for the interest rate, Niemeier said that hadn’t been established yet, and would come once the state knows how many LOCAL loans it has and what it needed to sell bonds for with which to cover the amounts.

According to information from the program’s link on the state treasurer’s website, each issue of funding is different, and interest rates are set by the lowest bid received by the department on the day the financing issue goes to market. For a 13-year issue on equipment purchases, the latest interest rate was 2.13 percent on Aug. 30, 2016.

“Where do we get the 600 (thousand) up front?” Councilman Paul Schmidt asked.

“I do have some reserves,” Niemeier said.

Councilman John Taves questioned the loan’s duration, asking if it would last longer than the serviceable life of the new attack engine. Fire Chief Tom Jenkins said the current pump and ladder attack engine is 31 years old.

The council also approved recommendations from the city’s hearing examiner regarding a conditional use permit for expansion work at Cheney High School, and a height variance at the high school allowing construction of a 500-seat performing arts auditorium. Hearing examiner Brian McGinn’s decision in May recommended approval of the conditional use permit, but denying the variance. City attorney Stanley Schwartz told the council that “bottom line” regarding the variance, McGinn ruled that the school district hadn’t shown that “unique characteristics of the property” forced the district to pursue the variance, rather than adhere to the zoning maximum height requirements of 36 feet.

The district had requested the variance for 54 feet. McGinn said this was by choice, not by need.

Schwartz said that while the council typically acts as a legislative body, at the June 12 meeting their role was to determine whether McGinn’s decision satisfied city law. If it was found to be consistent with codes, then it should be approved. If it wasn’t, it could be overturned, something Schwartz said he didn’t see happening.

“Tonight, you’re acting as an appellate court,” Schwartz said. “You’re acting as judges and you’re limited to the record as developed.”

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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