Canton Township nets $21,500 for its financially strapped fire department.
It was an every-penny-counts affair.
At an auction Wednesday, the township sold off everything from fire hoses to generators, lawn mowers, radios, drinking fountains, boxes of tangled electronics cords, helmets and a giant “school zone” sign — blinker included.
The township hoped to fetch the biggest bucks from two well-traveled ambulances and a low-mileage 1987 pump truck, which has served as the Canton Township Fire Department’s reserve truck in recent years.
Having failed twice at the ballot box, and with uncertainty looming over a third attempt at new money, every penny the township could rake in would go to fire department operations, Trustee William Smith said.
The Canton Township Fire Department has closed fire stations, cut staff and reduced its fleet of ambulances and fire trucks because in recent years property tax revenue has eroded and funding from the state has been cut. A 4-mill, five-year levy on Tuesday’s ballot will generate $955,000 annually if voters approve it.
Further cuts are inevitable if the levy fails. That’s why the $21,500 the township earned after advertising and auctioneer’s expenses means more this time around.
Looking inside the shuttered Lincoln Street fire station, which will be demolished or sold by year’s end, Smith shrugged when asked how much the township relied on the auction.
“Live within your means,” Smith said as if he was giving himself advice. “That’s what we have to do. We’re stewards of the taxpayers’ money.”
Local governments have few options to dispose of old or unused equipment. They can sell to another local government or, as many do, go to auction. Gene Kiko of Kiko Auctioneers said entities like Canton Township count on the auctions more now than they have in the past.
“Everybody’s in a crunch right now,” he said of local governments. “They’re all hurting for money.”
Fire Chief Scott McKibben, who did not attend the auction due to a conflict, said that the closing of fire stations, including the North Industry station, and the overall downsizing of the department prompted the sale of the vehicles.
“The more vehicles you have, the more vehicles you have to maintain and the more insurance you have to keep,” he said. “(The auction) will obviously help a little bit. It’s not going to bail us out, but it helps in the future as far as vehicles.”
The two ambulances brought in $15,800.
Dan Bryan of Minerva wound up with the 1987 Pierce Arrow pump truck, which included a 750-gallon water tank. He paid $5,600 for the truck, which has 31,000 miles on it. The township paid roughly $180,000 when it bought the truck new.
He plans to customize the truck, as he has done with ambulances, to use for his pressure washing business, Pressure Medic. Bryan figured the truck would sell for twice as much, if not more, than what he paid.