Joliet is buying a fire engine. Yeah, it's a big deal.
At least it's a bigger deal than it was five years ago, the last time the city bought a fire engine before going on tighter budgets that included freezes on vehicle and equipment purchases.
That pattern was broken in the past year as the city's financial outlook improved to the point that the city began replacing worn-out equipment.
But City Manager Thomas Thanas remarked Tuesday at a city council meeting that the vote to buy a fire engine still stands out in comparison to the past boom years.
Thanas said the new engine replaces a 1994 fire truck. The E-One Cyclone II Fire Engine costs $478,000, but the city will pay $415,000 by trading in three pieces of equipment.
Councilman Larry Hug, who had asked for financial information, said he concluded that it is "a very necessary purchase."
The city did not go out for bids on the fire engine. Fire Chief Joseph Formhals said the city's other fire engines are E-Ones, and having different makes in the fleet would create more expense and problems for the motor maintenance garage because the city would have to stock more parts and repair crews would have to learn how to work on fire trucks made by other manufacturers.
In other business, the city council during meetings on Monday and Tuesday:
Approved a massage parlor at 2207 Route 59. There was no public opposition to the business, but council members showed caution because of the sometimes unsavory reputations of massage parlors. City staff said the same operator, Guiyou Liu, runs massage business in Orland Square Mall in Orland Park, White Oaks Mall in Springfield, Northwood Mall in Peoria, and Eastland Mall in Bloomington. They said the business will specialize in traditional Chinese massage and other therapeutic services.
Donated a 6,150-square-foot lot to the Warren Sharpe Center for a children's community garden. The vacant lot was acquired in 2000 at a tax delinquent auction for $829, but the city has not used it.
Approved a contract with Electrical Solutions Network to install energy-efficient lighting in the Ottawa Street and Scott Street parking garages. The lighting will cost $277,000, but state incentives will cover all but $28,000 of the cost. The city expects to recoup its net costs in the first year because of energy savings valued at nearly $44,000 a year.
Approved a $1.2 million contract with Austin Tyler Construction to build a parking lot at Ottawa and Marion streets to serve the future downtown transportation center.