A special election will be held in the Setauket Fire District Sept. 10 to replace some outdated equipment.
Residents will be asked to vote “yes” or “no” for four Pierce Class A Pumpers from PNC Equipment Finance, LLC. On Aug. 1, the board of fire commissioners approved a referendum to hold the vote to buy the new vehicles.
David Sterne, fire district manager, said the fleet of trucks is aging — two pumpers are more than 20 years old, while another is 26 years old. Over the years, manufacturers have made safety changes when it comes to pumpers, he said. For example, modern fire truck cabs are built differently. More recently built pumpers have restraints for firefighters seated in the back, and there have been updates to secure equipment to meet the latest standards of the National Fire Protection Association.
“These trucks are wonderful, but we’re looking to build very scaled-down efficient trucks,” Sterne said. “That they do the job. They don’t have all the bells and whistles.”
If the majority of residents vote “yes,” it will give the district permission to enter into a tax-free Municipal Lease-Purchase Agreement with PNC Equipment Finance. The total cost of the four vehicles will not exceed $2,557,314. While the proposition is to approve a five-year payoff, Sterne said the district hopes to pay it off in three years.
He said a municipal lease-purchase agreement allows the district to set up a structured payment for the agreed amount of time and budget a certain amount for every year. Such a lease is different from a car lease, in that once all payments are made, the district will own the pumpers outright. While the agreement incurs interest, the rate is low.
“The good news is that interest rates are incredibly low, and we are looking at a below 3 percent interest rate,” Sterne said.
Since this is not a bond vote, it will not raise taxes in the fire district. The commissioners are currently preparing the budget for next year, and they are under the cap, according to the district manager.
Members of the fire district have test driven similar pumpers, which are made in the U.S., as some local departments have bought the same truck, such as Dix Hills which owns two.
“We’re excited to have something that will be under warranty for quite a while and will be very reliable for us,” Sterne said.
When it comes to voting for special elections like the one taking place Sept. 10, Sterne said residents can find information in various places. In addition to the Setauket Fire District posting a legal notice in The Village Times Herald, residents can find announcements on electric signs outside the firehouses, the district’s Facebook page and website, www.setauketfd.com. Mailings are not done for special elections, according to Sterne, since they can cost thousands of dollars to do. Mailings are saved for bond votes since they have the potential to raise taxes.
Residents can vote on the proposition to purchase four new pumpers Sept. 10 from 2 to 9 p.m. at the firehouse located at 394 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook.