Fire Chief Landon Massey asked Elon’s Town Council to fund the $2 million purchase of a new ladder truck. During the March 27 town council meeting, the council voted to approve the purchase for the new truck in 2025, which is when payment would start. The council’s vote today did not determine where the money would come from. 

Massey said there is an option to prepay for the truck, meaning the town would pay the entire cost before getting the truck. The benefit to this option would be a discount of $81,500. Both Massey and Town Manager Rich Roedner did not recommend this option. 

Massey said he was uncomfortable with paying that large of an upfront cost without ever seeing the truck, as there are so many moving parts within a ladder truck. Roedner had similar concerns, and said having the town’s money in an account earning interest could likely save more money than the discount would provide.

“My recommendation would be to not do it,” Roedner said. “This money is already put into or taken out of our control, doesn't give us a chance to deal with delays in delivery or heaven forbid the company goes out of business, declares bankruptcy, that's an awful lot of money to have hanging out there and not have anything in our hands.”

Massey said Elon’s Fire Department’s current ladder truck over the course of the year has been out of service probably for a month total, making it harder for the department to do its job. Council Member Stephanie Bourland agreed that the first priority needed to be safety over any financial burden.

“We're talking about lives here,” Bourland said. “That you can't put a price on.

The council also voted to set a date for a public hearing regarding Elon’s fire district tax rate. The public hearing will be held on April 21 and from there the council will discuss options for a new tax rate. Roedner submitted the request and is looking for an increase in the tax rate to account for inflation and the increase in value the fire department has seen. Since 2020, the fire department has increased in value from $273.41 million to $413.42 million.

Also during the meeting, Town Planning Director Lori Oakley presented to the board a proposal for a fee structure revision. Oakley was looking at fees mainly for conditional zoning requests for items such as permits, site plan review fee and preliminary subdivision plan review. Oakley said that upon looking at other similar towns in North Carolina for comparison, such as Burlington, Graham and Mebane, Elon’s fees were much lower. The fee structure was approved by the board and will go into effect April 3.

The council also voted to table two items regarding Link Transit, the bus system that Burlington uses. The town council is hoping to add six stops within Elon, but tabled the decision at this meeting to wait for final pricing. 

The next town council meeting will be at 6 p.m. April 14 in Town Hall.