The order for a new brush truck for the Clintonville Fire Department is moving forward.
The majority of the cost of the brush truck will be paid for by a federal grant that the fire department received. The Clintonville City Council was informed in July that it appeared that the fire department would be receiving the federal grant. At that time, the council approved paying for the local obligation of the grant, which amounted to $7,500.
At the Dec. 9 city council meeting, interim City Administrator Chuck Kell informed the council that the bids for the brush truck came in higher than the approved amount for the truck. The amount approved for the truck was based on the grant the department received.
Clintonville Fire Chief Shane Krueger had previously asked the Finance Committee to approve the brush truck at the previously approved amount so he could move forward in a timely manner. The committee did not approve that request. Instead, it asked Krueger to negotiate the price with the company with the low bid and come back to the committee.
A Fire Commission meeting was held Dec. 22, immediately followed by a Finance Committee meeting, and a special city council meeting. At the Fire Commission meeting Krueger informed the members that he negotiated with EJ Metals, Inc., the company that provided the lowest bid for the brush truck, to get the price within the grant limits. The new quoted price for the brush truck from EJ Metals was $158,500.
To get within the required price limit, Krueger said the performance bonding requirement was removed, the contingency change order allowance was deleted, the built in arrow stick and light bar was deleted, Ford provided step bars were deleted, hydraulic tool connection off the pump was deleted, and shelving mats and spill containment was deleted.
Of the items deleted, Krueger said members of the fire department would donate components for the arrow stick and light bar. The department would also order and install prior to in-service the step bars, shelving mats, and spill containment.
The item that was most concerning to the commission was the removal of the performance bond. The performance bond amounted to $6,409.
“That’s a pretty substantial amount to bond for the amount that we would have to prepay,” Krueger told the commission.
He added that bonding was not required by the grant, and it was included in the original bid should the city want to go that route.
The bid from EJ Metals also included a clause that the brush truck be completed within 150 days of EJ Metals taking possession of the chassis.
Krueger said that was concerning to him, and the reason for the special meetings. He said when he previously spoke with Clintonville Motors, they told him the chassis would arrive in January. That was changed to March during his most recent discussion with Clintonville Motors. EJ Metals is purchasing the chassis through Clintonville Motors to keep the business local.
Complicating the matter is the grant stipulates that the truck must be completed by mid-July.
Kell asked Krueger if there is a penalty clause in the contract if the contractor doesn’t complete the truck by a specific date.
Krueger said there is a penalty of $100 per day if the truck is not completed within 150 days of chassis delivery. He added that the contractor wouldn’t guarantee the truck would be done by mid-July if the delivery of the chassis was delayed.
Members of the commission expressed concern about meeting the mid-July deadline if the chassis was delayed.
Krueger said it was his understanding that if for some reason the chassis couldn’t be delivered by March, the city could request an extension on the grant. He said the grant can be extended for legitimate reasons.
The contractor would also start building the body of the truck prior to the arrival of the chassis, Krueger said.
Krueger also warned that the price could go up the longer the city waits.
A commission member asked what happens if the deal falls apart?
“I guess the other option is, don’t order it, wait for two years, and then spend the money anyway,” Krueger said. “The truck is going to have to be replaced. We have an opportunity to get some grants. I’d be disappointed to turn it down.”
Krueger also stated the fire department has had success in the past securing grants for equipment for the department.
A motion to approve the $158,500 bid was passed.
During the finance committee discussion, Alderman John Wilson asked if any of the equipment on the current brush truck can be used on the new truck.
Krueger said the grant stipulates that the old truck must be taken out of fire service.
Alderman Mark Doornink added that the department scored high on the grant criteria because the current brush truck is a non-fire service vehicle. It has an open cab, doesn’t have seatbelts, and it didn’t come with doors. The fire department added the doors.
Discussion ensued about whether the performance bonding would guarantee the grant.
“We’ve been awarded the grant, that’s for sure,” Doornink said.
When questioned again, Doornink said, “We got the grant secured, period. Now we have to perform during the performance period.”
The committee passed a motion to approve the bid as presented.
The performance bonding requirement was heavily discussed during the council meeting.
“I would be much more comfortable for the citizens if we passed a bond,” said Alderwoman Mary-Beth Kuester.
She added that the city has spent $6,000 on lesser things than that in the past.
Wilson asked why it took so long to get to this point if the grant was approved in July.
“Why are we running in a bind with time now. Something doesn’t add up,” Wilson said.
Krueger said written approval of the grant wasn’t received until August. He said the department met with vendors and wrote the specifications for the truck in September. Bids went out in October and were due back in November.
Council President Jeannie Schley asked Kell if he recommended the city pay for the performance bond.
“I’d probably say no because I don’t think it’s going to guarantee you the federal dollars,” Kell said. “All it’s guaranteeing is that you’re going to have a company build you a truck.”
The council voted 9-1 to approve the bid as presented. Kuester voted no.
Immediately after the vote, Kuester made a motion to have the city purchase the performance bond to go with the bid proposal. There was no second to that motion.
The Clintonville Tribune-Gazette followed up with Krueger on Jan. 12 as to the status of the chassis. Krueger said EJ Metals did place an order for the chassis through Clintonville Motors.