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Cost of new generator sparks debate in Olean

OLEAN – After a monthly inspection earlier in the year, a generator that powers the City Central Fire Building was found to not be in working order, and now that piece of equipment will be replaced, but not all of the city aldermen are happy with the $72,043 expenditure.

“The unit that needs to be replaced is pre-1978,” City Fire Chief Robert Bell said. “The building was built and dedicated in 1978, and it is an original piece of equipment.”

Replacement parts have been sought for repairs, all to no avail, according to Bell.

Since the unit failed, the station has been covered by a temporary generator in case the power goes out.

The measure met with one vote against. Ward 6 Alderman Nate Smith said he voted against the plan because he does not see this as something that constitutes an emergency to the extent of using part of the general fund contingency balance.

“This is a significant purchase,” he said.

“I would be more comfortable with this being a budgeted item. When I asked what this generator powers, I was told a few computers, some handheld radio units and a defibrillator charger. I would like to see this budgeted.”

Part of the problem, as Smith sees it, is that these contingency funds should be used for emergencies like storm tree and debris removal and not items that can wait until they can be budgeted.

Bell said the $72,043 is broken down as $9,000 for the rental of a unit until the replacement can be purchased and installed.

The remaining $62,043 would be for that purchase and installation.

In other Fire Department news, the aerial ladder truck that has been determined to need replacement will be repaired and placed back in service as bids are sought for a replacement, Bell said.

Bell would not place a time frame on the decision of purchasing the truck.

“We want to make sure we do not rush a decision on a truck like this,” he said. “We need to take our time, since this is a purchase of around $750,000.”