Despite objections from one elected official, the Barnegat Township Committee today passed a resolution allowing the township to seek bids on a $2.1 million bond ordinance to fund new vehicles and equipment.
Township Committeeman Leonard Morano said he supported the purchase of a new aerial fire truck and turnout gear for Barnegat's volunteer fire departments, but said he objected to the fact that the bond would also cover a range of other purchases and expenses, from new police vehicles to computer upgrades.
The vote to fund new public works and police cars with one big bond – the township's first since 2006 – "should never have happened," Morano said. Such expenses should come out of the budgets of the township's various departments on a year-to-year basis, he said.
"I just can't see spending $2.1 million when people are losing their homes and losing their jobs," Morano said. "Our grandchildren are going to have to pay for this."
Leadership from the Barnegat Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 were in attendance to hear the vote, and emphasized the importance of the biggest line item covered by the bond: a new $900,000 ladder truck.
The township hasn't had a new aerial truck since 1988, said fire company president John Cowie. Barnegat has used Stafford Township's ladder truck in recent years when conducting roof operations and fighting fires from above, "but you can't always rely on another department all the time."
Also covered by the bond would be $300,000 for firefighting protective gear and safety equipment, including air packs, turnout gear, communication equipment and rescue operation tools. Gary Brown, who will take over as president of the fire company in 2012, said Barnegat's volunteer firefighters don't come to the township with their hands out very often.
"When we ask for this stuff, we really need it," he said.
Township attorney Jerry Dasti said it won't be clear how much the bond payments will cost the township in interest until offers start coming in.
"When we know the cost, there will be a vote to approve it," he said.
But township adminsitrator David Breeden said that with interest rates so low, it's a good time to bond. "The cost of money is at an all-time low," he said, "so if you need to borrow money, now is the time."