For the first time in recent history, if ever, Sunnyside's fire department will have three identical ambulances.
That's according to the budget proposed for 2006.
Fire Chief Aaron Markham said the department proposes spending more than $300,000 in ambulance reserves to buy two ambulances and re-tool another.
The existing ambulances range in age from seven to four years-old. The newest, a 2001 model, was at one time a display model which came to the department with heavy mileage. "It was fine at the time," he said.
Markham said one of the biggest benefits to having three identical ambulances is uniformity, as each will have the same equipment in the same location. "That will really help our volunteers who don't work with the ambulances on a fulltime basis," he said.
The arrangement will mean whittling ambulance reserves to $30,000, a figure that caused some concern for Mayor Ed Prilucik.
City Manager Bob Stockwell said ideally that the department should have about $50,000 in reserves, but that the fund was built up for the express purpose of procuring new ambulances.
Prilucik noted that since the actual purchases will still be subject to council approval-even if the budget is adopted as currently written-the ambulance reserve fund could be revisited at that later date.
In another budget proposal related to the fire department, Markham proposed the department forego "kelly" days, or an additional mandatory day off for employees every 27 days to avoid paying overtime.
Markham explained it would actually be more cost effective to pay overtime than provide additional staffing to make sure every employee had an additional day off every 27 days.
The Sunnyside City Council is expected to take final action on the 2006 budget during its meeting next Monday, Dec. 12.