During a special Sept. 4 meeting of the Orange Township Board of Trustees, Fire Chief Matt Noble proposed hiring a full-time mechanic to eliminate the necessity for costly, unexpected repairs of the department’s fleet.
Noble began by referencing the township’s 2017 performance audit conducted by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Office which recommended hiring a full-time mechanic to maintain the fire department’s fleet.
“What we have brought before you is a position description for an auto mechanic that would be primarily used within the fire department,” Noble told trustees. “However, (the mechanic) could be utilized by other departments in the township — maintenance and parks.”
Noble said the audit stated the township would see a saving in two or three years by hiring the mechanic.
Maintenance Supervisor Arron James said having a full-time mechanic would help with the plow trucks.
“In the winter, if we had a breakdown, we wouldn’t need to get it towed down to the truck shop to get the repairs done,” he said. “There are about eight plow trucks and 10 or 12 other trucks that we could utilize his services on.”
James said if there was a fire truck down, it would take precedence over anything in the parks and maintenance departments.
Noble said there is also the possibility of offsetting the mechanic’s salary “by working collaboratively with some outside agencies such as Liberty Township and Scioto Township to potentially contract out the services to those townships.”
Noble added the logic behind hiring a mechanic is to reduce the “outflow of payments to outside agencies” and to have the in-house mechanic perform regular preventive maintenance on the fleet of vehicles, reducing the odds for emergency repairs.
“Am I sitting here today telling you that it will eliminate any outside (repairs), I’m not,” he said. “I think it will greatly reduce the outflow of cost to these outside agencies.”
Township Administrator Lee Bodnar said the way the township currently conducts business is when a vehicle breaks, it is sent out to be fixed.
“When you have someone here to maintain it over the long haul, it will last longer, and it will be cared for,” he said.
Noble told the trustees that hiring a full-time mechanic is within the department’s appropriations budget, and that he wasn’t looking to bring anyone on board for the position until the first part of 2019. He said the pay range for the position, depending upon the emergency vehicle certifications held by the candidate, could fluctuate between $80,000 to $85,000 per year.
“This is creating the position, accepting the position description, allowing us the rest of this year to put out the position and to interview to get the right fit, the right person,” he said. “We also have some capital expenditure outlay, so some of that we can get taken care of this year.”
Noble told trustees that they would see the adjustments in the department’s proposed 2019 appropriation budget to accommodate the funding of the new position.
“You would see a reduction in the repairs and maintenance line item 2019,” he said. “Those monies would be used to fill this position and then we would look to contract with outside agencies as well for those services.”
Noble predicted that once things get moving with the new position, there might be the need for a second mechanic.
“It would be totally funded with contractual services to these outside agencies,” he said. “Right now, we’re all sending out our apparatus or we’re utilizing a company to come in. I think it’s time. We have a big enough fleet, we have enough interested parties outside of Orange Township, and the performance audit recommended we take a look at this and we go down this path.”
Noble said the township would save the cost of the mechanic’s salary “to start off with.”
“I think you’re going to see an influx of income coming in from contracting this person’s services out,” he said.
Noble added the department is currently cleaning out a bay in the storage building near Station 362 to use as a mechanic’s shop.
“This person would be an hourly employee and on call,” he said.
Trustees looked over the crafted language of the position but took no action on the matter.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.