DOBSON — Vehicles and infrastructure improvements were atop the lists of items for which the town’s department heads will request funds.
At a planning retreat held recently at Putters Patio and Grill, the Dobson Board of Commissioners got a look at each of the town’s departments’ needs in the 2017-18 fiscal year’s budget.
Fire Chief David Jenkins said the town’s fire department is in need of a brush truck.
According to Jenkins, a recent brush fire in town could have been catastrophic, and a brush truck would help his department fight such fires. The truck, built on a pick-up truck chassis, is more maneuverable and, with its smaller size and four-wheel drive capabilities, can go where larger trucks can’t.
Rather than running hoses hundreds or even thousands of yards to reach a brush fire, firefighters can drive right up to a fire and quickly extinguish it using only the equipment on the truck.
“I’m not exactly sure on a price yet,” Jenkins told the town board.
“With the amount it will be used, I recommend we buy used,” added Town Manager Josh Smith.
Smith said a new brush truck could cost the town about $50,000, but the town could see significant savings if it purchases a used vehicle which meets its needs.
Police Chief Shawn Meyers is also in need of a vehicle in the 2017-18 fiscal year. It would replace a 2008 Dodge Charger, which has made for some headaches for Meyers and his department.
“We will drive it until it blows up, but it’s close,” said Meyers of the patrol car.
He noted the engine in the vehicle has been replaced twice since it was added to his department’s fleet. His department, as it did in the current fiscal year, is looking to replace the Charger with a Ford Explorer.
Meyers said his department has had many maintenance issues with the Chargers, and an Explorer costs little more than a Ford Taurus.
The cost has not changed since the department purchased its last Explorer, according to Meyers, and commissioners allocated $32,000 for that purchase in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Dobson Public Works Director Michael Frazier had the longest list of requests for the upcoming budget.
In recent years, the town has been on a quest to replace aging water meters and fire hydrants, doing a handful of those projects every year.
Frazier said he doesn’t see a need for the town to replace water lines. However, he wants to begin a project which will make fixing the aging lines easier when they break.
Water main valves scattered along the water mains which serve town water customers are also aging, said Frazier. The valves are used to turn off the water to a section of line in the event that section needs to be fixed.
“The biggest issue is turning the water off,” explained Frazier. “It’s easy to fix them from there.”
Frazier said his department is running into issues with the valves. They won’t work, and personnel must work their way backward up the lines until they find one that will cut off the water. That means more residences and businesses lose water service than would be necessary if the valve nearest to the break was working.
Frazier asked commissioners to consider replacing two valves at a cost of $5,000 each next year and continue the practice in coming years.
One larger capital item Frazier is asking commissioners to include in the next budget is the replacement of a panel box at a pump station. The $20,000 project would replace a panel box that is more than five decades old.
Frazier had also asked the board for $33,000 for a tool truck. However, he agreed his department could do without the truck for another year.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.