The strengthening U.S. dollar is having a direct effect on Kelowna’s fire department.
On Monday, city fire chief Jeff Carlisle asked council to increase the $600,000 it set aside in the 2014 budget for a new, custom-built emergency rescue truck by nearly by 18 per cent.
The reason for the need for more money? The U.S. dollar’s continued strengthening in value against the Canadian dollar.
The new truck, built in the U.S, will cost $106,200 more than originally expected, in part, because of the stronger U.S. dollar.
In his report to council, Carlisle said approximately $60,000 of the increase can be directly attributed to the value of the U.S.”Greenback” compared to the Canadian “Loonie”, while the rest of the increase is due to the need for a larger and stronger driveline for the new vehicle.
Originally, he said, a standard driveline was to be included but it was discovered that the truck would be susceptible to much higher maintenance costs because of the frequency of maintenance if the standard driveline was included.
While the extra money for the new truck will come from the city’s fire equipment replacement reserve and not directly impact the planned 3.41 per cent tax increase this year, a few councillors expressed frustration they were not told about the need for more money for the truck last week during their budget deliberations.
The funding shortfall for the truck was discovered following a lengthy request for proposals issued by the city, said Carlisle. The new truck will replace the existing 13-year-old fire department rescue truck.
That truck will become the back-up rescue vehicle for the department once the new one is goes into service, expected later this year.
The existing back-up truck, which was built in 1991, will then be sold off the revenue it generates going back into the equipment replacement reserve.
The city will also undertake a review of its future requirements, costs and time of replacement equipment for the fire department.
Council approved the extra money for the new rescue truck at its regula Monday afternoon meeting.