Mount Olive to use armory sale funds to pay off truck debt

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Town of Mount Olive officials say they have found a way to replace a more than 20-year-old pumper truck in the fire department, and the loan on it can be paid off in half the time such efforts have been done in the past.

The effort to replace the old truck, officials said, is the most pressing current need in the department.

The new truck will cost approximately $650,000.

Currently, the town owes about $550,000 on three trucks now in use.

Just recently, the town sold its old National Guard facility to the Mount Olive Pickle Company for $550,000.

The funds were directed by the town board to be set aside for the fire department.

Town Manager Charles Brown said Mount Olive Fire Chief Greg Wiggins has proposed to take that $550,000 from the armory sale and pay off the current debt on those three trucks.

The town manager called it “a great idea” and said the measure has already been endorsed by the town board.

The annual debt payment on the three trucks is about $77,000.

Brown said it will take about two years to go through the process of obtaining a new truck and that the town’s annual debt payment can be set aside as a considerable down payment on the new pumper.

Traditionally, the town has paid off such loans over a 30-year period, he said.

Chief Wiggins’ proposal is to take the $77,000 annually set aside for the town’s debt payment, use it as a down payment on the new pumper and take out the loan for only 15 years, Brown said. The 23-year-old pumper now in use “is on its last legs,” he added.

Maintenance on it is getting too expensive, Brown said.

“By the time everything is done to sign the papers over for the new pumper we will have money set aside for a substantial down payment, and it is obvious that is the best route to take. I would like to congratulate Chief Wiggins for his insight into this effort,” he said.

Brown added, it will shorten up the time for payment on the new truck, because after 30 years a truck needs replacing again.

The proposed process has already begun, he said.

It will take eight to nine months to determine all of the specifications needed to meet local needs and another 12 to 16 months to build the truck once it is ordered, Brown said. “So, we are looking at a little more than two years before we could get the truck built and put into service.”

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