|Mayor Bill Brandt this morning vetoed the Antigo Common Council’s decision to buy a new ambulance from an out-of-town firm, suggesting the purchase needed more study.|
At Wednesday’s council meeting, aldermen rejected attempts from Brandt and Alderman Phil Beck to award the contract for a new ambulance to Pomasl Fire Equipment Inc. of Antigo, electing to buy a unit from Foster Coach Sales, Sterling, Ill., instead. Foster was the lowest bidder by $66.
“Putting things off for a month won’t hurt anything,” Brandt said after announcing the veto this morning. “I think we should do business with a local firm and if taxpayers feel the same way, or feel we should go with the low bidder instead, they should contact their aldermen. I’m sure they would like to get public input and represent their constituents.”
The Pomasl unit, a PL Custom, costs $175,896 while the Foster ambulance, a Horton similar to those operated by the ambulance service, now, was priced at $175,830.
“For 66 bucks, if we don’t have it, I will donate it,” Beck, ardent in his support for the local business, said at the meeting. “I think we should buy the ambulance from Pomasl.”
The units were comparable—with both meeting specs—but not identical. The Horton included rear air bags—a $750 option that Fire Chief Jon Petroskey said added a level of safety and that his crews favored—while the PL Custom had a three year warranty, compared to two for the Horton.
The city also has a history with the Hortons, which can be serviced from Rhinelander, while PL Custom units are just entering the Midwest market after being used extensively on the East Coast. Pomasl would service that unit locally.
Brandt had Public Safety Director Eric Roller talk to departments with the PL Custom units, and said they were pleased with the equipment.
“This is a local company. They employ local people,” the mayor said. “It is very closely priced and it would be nice if we could do business with people who pay taxes here and have employees who pay taxes here.”
The Horton was the preferred unit of fire department members who test drove both ambulances and won the unanimous backing of the Finance, Personnel and Legislative Committee.
“The department is really comfortable with Horton,” Alderman Tim Kassis said. “Do we respect our employees? I trust the people who drive it and the people who use it.”
The resolution also noted that the department has a good history with the Horton ambulances currently in use.
“Staffing changes have occurred when it is possible that law enforcement personnel are required to drive an ambulance from an accident scene so the familiarity of having the same type of ambulance and layout of equipment will facilitate ease of use from these employees,” the resolution stated.
Beck called that “a lame excuse if I have ever heard one.”
“We have a responsibility to the taxpayer. We have an opportunity to support local taxpayers,” Beck said, adding later that voting against the PL Custom unit was “a negative vote for the business and the local economy.”
Beck’s motion to purchase the unit locally failed 3-5. Joining him in support were Glenn Bugni and Dan Bauknecht.
Opposed were Joe Kapusta, Jim Darling, Tim Kassis, Tom Bauknecht, and Reinhardt Balcerzak. Steve Dunn was absent.
The Horton ambulance purchase was then approved on a 7-1 vote, with Beck opposed.
The decision to reject the council’s decision was the first veto in Brandt’s five years as mayor.
The issue will be referred to next Wednesday’s Finance, Personnel & Legislative Committee meeting, slated for 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room at City Hall.
MAYORAL VETO—A sparkling new ambulance was awaiting delivery outside Pomasl Fire Equipment, Inc. this morning, designated for a department outside the Antigo area. This morning, Mayor Bill Brandt vetoed Common Council action Wednesday night that would have purchased a new ambulance from Foster Coach Sales, Inc. of Sterling, Ill. instead of the locally-based Pomasl. Brandt noted that the difference in bids was only $66 and suggested citizen input was needed before aldermen make a final decision. The matter now returns to the Finance, Personnel & Legislative Committee next week.