Vols who gave up pay for 10 years closer to new fire truck

Town officials considering loan for new fire truck, but may still use stipends its volunteer firefighters voted to forgo to pay tor fire truck

The Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The possibilities of getting a new fire truck for Mesilla will be the primary topic of discussion by the town's board of trustees when it meets at 6 p.m. Monday at Mesilla Town Hall, 2231 Avenida de Mesilla.

Trustees will formally decide if a $284,860 loan application to the New Mexico Finance Authority will be submitted.

Town Clerk Nicholas Eckert said Kevin Hoban, chief of the Mesilla Volunteer Fire Department, has apparently found a fire truck that would best suit Mesilla's needs. Eckert added the price quote for the fire truck is $284,860.

"We want to get that process going," said Eckert, of submitting the loan request to the state's financial agency for review. "Hopefully, NMFA can put it on one of their board meeting agendas in October or November."

Town officials are hopeful NMFA's review and approval of the loan will be sooner rather than later.

"If it's possible to get a letter of approval from NMFA in November, then hopefully the town can take possession of the new vehicle in December," Eckert said. "But, we don't know exactly when they (NMFA) will put it on their agenda for consideration."

A new fire truck for Mesilla is also the number-one priority on the short list of Infrastructure Capital Improvement Plan requests that trustees will also consider approving on Monday. The list needs to be approved and forwarded to the state so that information can be shared with the New Mexico Legislature, which will consider capital improvement funding requests when it convenes in January.

In addition to a new fire truck, trustees have tentatively identified rehabilitation of the town's Public Safety Building, reconstruction of Calle de Parian, miscellaneous road improvements within Mesilla, and playground equipment as the town's five state funding priorities for capital improvements.

As for the fire truck, if the loan is approved and until any determination has been made by the Legislature on any proposed state funding for a fire truck the new vehicle would be paid for through stipends for Mesilla's volunteer firefighters. A few months ago, the firefighters unanimously voted to forego receiving stipends from the town for 10 years, if the money could be redirected toward the purchase of a new fire truck.

Mesilla has never purchased a new fire truck since the town was incorporated in 1959. Although the town's volunteer fire department has received new vehicles, those were provided through state or federal grants. Any town funds used to buy firefighting vehicles were used to acquire used fire trucks.

Also Monday, trustees will consider approval of a list of town-owned assets worth $5,000 or more. The list is required annually by the State Auditor's Office.

Also, trustees will consider as much as $2,000 in write-offs, or debts it considers not collectable. Eckert said those debts would be for water, sewer and trash bills the town has been unable to collect since 2007.

He added the write-offs are "significantly lower" than the $5,000 trustees approved last year.

Copyright 2012 Las Cruces Sun-News, a MediaNews Group Newspaper
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