Supply Chain Issues/Budget Timing Bog Down SJFD Pursuit of New Rescue-EMS Vehicle

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 8, 2022 at 10:38am

The Village of South Jacksonville is in a holding pattern when it comes to adding a vehicle to the fire department fleet.

Village Fire Chief Richard Evans Jr. updated the Board of Trustees during the regular meeting last night on efforts to purchase a new ¾ ton pick up truck for use as the rescue/EMS truck.

The plan to move to a pickup truck would save the village in maintenance costs to the current rescue fire engine that Evans says is used to respond to EMS calls approximately 75 to 80% of the time and that the engine is not really suited for that type of work because of its large size.

Evans has been working with Morrow Brothers Ford on acquiring a new F-250 for his department through the State of Illinois’ bid program. He says recently however, he’s been informed that they won’t be able to get a truck now until next year.

After talking with them, he can no longer get any 2022’s. They have some ordered but they are all spoken for, so we ventured out to some other dealerships and all of them are in the same boat.

They don’t have the vehicles on the lot that they wish they had and that people are looking for. We happened to stumble across one here that would fit our needs, but it’s probably here for a short time. But with the supply and demand, it’s just a challenge for everybody.”

Evans says the new 2022 Chevrolet ¾-ton truck that is currently on the lot at another local dealership would suit the needs of the fire department perfectly and that waiting for a 2023 through the state bid program would mean waiting until January to place an order for a vehicle that would likely not arrive until July or August of next year, and likely cost the village anywhere from 7 to 9,000.00 more.

After a brief discussion on the vehicle, Trustee Tom Jordan motioned for the village to purchase the truck which was seconded by Trustee Steve Retzer. The issue with the purchase is that the funding would have to come from the upcoming 2023 budget year, which has not been set yet.

Trustee Todd Warrick voted no and said he was in favor of the purchase to help the fire department, but was not in favor of spending funds that the Village did not have accounted for in a budget that has not been discussed yet. Paula Stewart said she agreed with Warrick and also voted no.

Trustees Jackie Killion and Tom Luber were absent from the meeting which resulted in a tie vote, causing Village President Dick Samples to cast the deciding vote. Samples says it’s a position he would prefer not to be in. “It’s what happens. You know, I don’t like to vote. I don’t want to be the tie-breaker.

I probably would not have normally voted for this, but I did vote in favor of this for the simple reason that it has to be ratified at the next meeting. I think that more research needs to be done. You have Ford, you have Dodge, you have Chevrolet and GMC and we have one price from a local car dealer.”

Budget meetings won’t be held until later this summer. Evans says he and one Assistant Chief contacted multiple dealers in the area and none had any suitable vehicles available.

Evans says he understands the Board of Trustee’s position with concerns on the next year’s budget, however, he worries that the truck will have already been sold by the time the full board can ratify the measure during a special meeting two weeks from now and that the village will end up spending more money on a comparable vehicle in the long run.