Wilton officials know a bargain when they see one.

They’ve recently approved the purchase of two new vehicles for the town at significant savings by finding and making good deals.

New Fire Truck

In December, both the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen voted to approve purchasing a new fire truck, using funds from the Charter Authority, the town’s contingency fund used to pay for expenses not covered in the budget. They did so after considering three options–and choosing the least expensive option of them all.

Interim Fire Chief Geoffrey Herald had informed town officials that two of his department’s fire trucks (including Engine pumper No. 2, above) were less than three years away from the end of their 15-year lives. The department could replace them with new trucks, at a cost of more than $608,000 apiece; the current trucks could be refurbished, for about $450,000 each, to extend their service about seven to 10 years; or they could replace one now with the purchase of a demo truck from the manufacturer for less than either of the two other options.

The Pierce Company, which made the pumper trucks the town needs to replace, had a 2019 demo model priced at $440,343. According to Herald, the 2019 model was both more modern and, with a 1,000 gallon water tank, had a bigger capacity than the current pumpers at 500-750 gallons each. Moreover, Pierce had a two-year warranty on the demo, while a brand new truck would only come with a one-year warranty.

As a demo, the truck would have been used at truck shows and for display. Despite not being built to Wilton’s custom specifications, it could be put into service just a few months after the purchase once minor customizations were made. Fire Commission chair Casey Healy assured town officials that the demo truck would “work perfectly well for us.”

In addition, the new demo truck will fit into the Fire Station 2 garage bay–something critical with the limited space and smaller size of that facility.

Herald encouraged the Board of Selectmen to consider purchasing the demo now, so that the town wouldn’t have to absorb purchasing two vehicles at the same time two years from now.

Anthony DeFelice, Wilton’s financial and reporting manager, estimated the town would realize a net savings of $136,000, both because of the lower purchase price and because the town would save $66,881 in bonding costs by buying the truck outright in cash.

The Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance each dipped into the portion of the Charter Authority it controlled–$310,000 from the BOS and approximately $130,000 from the BOF–to cover the cost. The cost also included a trade in value for the current Wilton Fire Department truck of $70,000-$100,000.

Both town and fire officials agreed that it was a lucky coincidence that a demo truck existed that so closely matched what the town needed. As one expressed, Wilton was “in the right place at the right time.”

New DPW Loader

According to minutes from a special meeting held by the Board of Selectmen on Friday, Jan. 24, the Board of Selectmen approved the early purchase of a new loader for the Department of Public Works, for $121,000. The town had been scheduled to purchase a new loader in FY2021, but First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice told her fellow BOS members the town could realize considerable savings by purchasing an in-stock model now, at a 3% reduction, rather than wait until the start of the next fiscal year.

The town was also offered greater trade-in value, which helped the town save even more money.