Follansbee split on fire truck purchase

FOLLANSBEE – The Follansbee Volunteer Fire Department will receive a new pumper truck following a split vote on the matter from Follansbee Council Monday.

Mayor David Velegol Jr. broke a tied vote at a special meeting called to consider the $433,670 purchase. Second Ward Councilman Dave Secrist, 3rd Ward Councilwoman Kathy Santoro and Councilman at large Dominick Micucci had voted for it, while 1st Ward Councilman Vito “Skip” Cutrone, 4th Ward Councilwoman Iris Ferrell and 5th Ward Councilman Tom Ludewig voted against.

Following the meeting, Cutrone, Ferrell and Ludewig all stressed they support the fire department but said they had concerns proper procedure wasn’t followed.

Fire Chief Larry Rea said he got council’s approval in August to seek bids for the new truck but inadvertently failed to get their OK for the bid submitted by the Sutphen Corp. of Dublin, Ohio, before moving forward with the purchase.

Rea said he understood the dissenting council members’ concerns and sought them after the meeting to tell them he had no hard feelings.

Before casting his vote, Velegol asked Rea to confirm the fire department will be paying entirely for the new truck, applying proceeds from the sale of its current pumper truck toward the $75,000 down payment.

Rea told Velegol it would.

Over the years the volunteer department has purchased vehicles with its own funds and with funds allocated by council. In either case, they become the city’s property.

Following the meeting, Rea said the current pumper truck is 20 years old and it’s customary to retire pumpers then because using older trucks can affect a department’s fire rating and premiums paid by homeowners for fire insurance.

In related business, council supported the department obtaining a 15-year loan at 2.71 percent from WesBanco for the purchase.

City Manager John DeStefano noted among six loan arrangements proposed by three institutions, it provided the lowest monthly payment. Other loan options were submitted by US Bank and Country Roads Leasing of Bridgeport, W.Va.

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