Mayor's ambulance veto upheld|
The Antigo Common Council Wednesday upheld Mayor Bill Brandt’s veto of a new ambulance purchase, sending the issue back to committee for rebidding.
At its regular August session, aldermen voted 5-4 in favor of sustaining the veto, with Jim Darling, Tim Kassis, Tom Bauknecht and Reinhardt Balcerzak opposed.
On the advice of the mayor, aldermen also decided to review the city’s entire bidding process, perhaps giving some sort of preference to local businesses.
The issue dates to July, when the mayor vetoed the city’s purchase of a new ambulance from Foster Coach Sales of Sterling, Ill. The unit cost $175,830, $66 less than a similar, but not identical, PL Custom ambulance offered by Pomasl Fire Equipment of Antigo.
The mayor took the action, he said, to allow more public input about the need to buy the equipment locally.
“There is strong sentiment in the community,” Brandt said Wednesday. “I felt strongly that purchasing locally would be in order.”
But several aldermen disagreed.
“The issue here is really safety,” Balcerzak said, noting that the Horton ambulance was recommended by city emergency crews and includes air bags in the back compartment, a feature not found on the PL Custom.
Balcerzak also took issue with the mayor’s statement that the PL Custom had a three-year warranty, compared to two years for the Horton. That only covers certain emergency components, he said, not the engine or areas of typical concern.
“That’s bunch of baloney. It’s a scare tactic.” Balcerzak said. “We’ve got a system that is good for the safety of the employees. It has nothing to do with buying locally.”
Tom Bauknecht said it is important for the city to maintain the integrity of the bidding system, and that companies such as Foster Coach Sales put long hours into meeting specifications and determining pricing.
“Foster did everything we asked them,” he said. “The only thing they didn’t do was move to Antigo apparently.”
The Finance, Personnel & Legislative Committee will rebid the ambulance, with the mayor directing the panel to include the cost of warranty work in the specifications. The city’s two Horton ambulances are serviced from Rhinelander, but it is not free as previously suggested, the mayor said. The company charges $100 to come to Antigo.
“Those sorts of costs I want to see reflected in the bid,” he said. “I don’t want it to cost us any money to get warranty work done on an ambulance.”
In other business, the council voted to move forward with an expansive park pavilion project, funded largely by a now-anonymous gift.
Aldermen voted 9-0 to accept the $150,000 donation to finance half the construction of the new Peaceful Valley Pavilion. The city has already earmarked the other $150,000, some of it coming through other donations, needed to move the project forward.
The donation carries the stipulation that the donor will have naming rights. The funds will come in the form of stock shares.
Plans call for an attractive, 40 by 80 foot pavilion with garage doors that could be opened or closed to protect against the elements. The building, with an overall price tag of $300,000, would be located on the south side of Sixth Avenue, just east of the bridge over Spring Brook.
In other matters, aldermen:
—waived the building, electrical and plumbing permit fees for the current Habitat for Humanity project at 1136 Lincoln St. A related resolution temporarily suspended the no parking restrictions along Lincoln Street during the construction.
—increased the self-funded health insurance reserve fund from $700,000 to $1.3 million to reflect claims and fees for a year. Aldermen also established an ad hoc committee to review the entire health insurance package.
—authorized the city to spend up to $1,500 to install heat tape on the Antigo Public Library roof.
—and approved the bid of Visu-Sewer Inc. not to exceed $50,000 for sliplining 1,346 feet of sanitary sewer.
Antigo may join the list of communities that largely ban the use of cellular telephones while driving. Aldermen Steve Dunn referred a proposal to make Antigo a hands-free cellular zone to the committee of the whole.
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