14 June, 1985
Bill would provide low-rate loans for squad equipment
By Nancy Freiberg
TRENTON -Lawmakers released a measure Thursday that would allow municipalities to borrow up to $75,000 to purchase equipment for their Volunteer Fire Department and rescue squads.
“It’s good for towns that have to buy fire equipment and can’t afford it,” said West Windsor deputy mayor and Fire Commissioner Carolyn Bronson . “or for those that have exceeded their bonding capacity.”
But Ms.Bronson the cost of equipment is so high that $75,000 would do little toward paying for such items as pumpers which often cost between 125 thousand dollars as $150,000. West Windsor also plans to purchase an aerial ladder, which will cost up to $450,000 .
Miss Bronson said state lawmakers should instead pressure fire truck manufacturers to keep their costs down by producing a standardized truck. Presently such equipment is made to order for each municipality, she said.
Princeton Borough’s fire commissioner, Councilman Irv Urken, however, had a different view of the proposed measure.
“we struggle so much to stay within the (budget) caps – if somebody comes along and says here’s $75,000 – why not?” he said. “We have the option of bonding, but we don’t do that as a rule in the borough.”
Mr. Urken said volunteer firefighters in the borough need such items as communication devices, new jackets, helmets, and hose.
“It (the loan) would buy a lot of small stuff,” Mr.Urken said. “And it would defray the cost of the larger items, since most of the things we talk about cost more than $100,000.”
Under the bill, sponsored by Sen.Richard Van Wagner (D-Monmouth), a total of $5 million would be appropriated for the loans, which would be payable at a low rate of interest over a five-year period. The measure was amended to include equipment for volunteer rescue squads yesterday.
The bill would also set up a revolving fund from which municipalities could apply for loans in subsequent years, as long as the total debt does not exceed $150,000.