Sunnyside Fire Chief Aaron Markham got approval from the city council Monday night to apply for a $150,000 loan for the purchase of a new ambulance.
Although there is enough money in the ambulance fund to purchase a new ambulance outright, Markham argued that the terms of the loan combined with the city’s needs over the next few years makes the loan a good choice for the city.
Markham told council that the city currently has three ambulances, all purchased in 2006, and all need service constantly. All are also near the end of their expected service life and the city has been spending a lot of money maintaining them.
Markham said two of the ambulances broke down at the same time in 2013, so the need for a new ambulance is becoming urgent. With a fourth ambulance available, the city would have more flexibility in servicing or replacing ambulances.
The city will need to purchase new ambulances or remount existing ones over the next few years, and the ambulance fund will not replenish fast enough to pay for all the new vehicles and still retain enough in reserve for an emergency.
The loan from the Local Option Capital Assist Lending program has a historically low interest rate, making the application a good choice for the city, according to Markham. He believes that the city will need to get a loan for new equipment sooner or later, and starting the process now means the city is more likely to be accepted for a loan through the program.
Markham fielded questions about the application process, the financing and what type of ambulance would be purchased. He recommended the city purchase a 2014 type III modular ambulance. The city plans to switch from diesel engines in its ambulances to gasoline engines, due to maintenance issues.
Markham said that the maintenance costs have not yet reached a point where the repairs cost more than they are worth, but the costs are adding up.
The council voted unanimously to allow Markham to apply for the loan. The council also decided that a plan for replacing the existing ambulances needs to be discussed during the next round of budget discussions.