The Washington Township Advisory Board voted Feb. 18 to move forward in the process of taking out a loan to buy an estimated $390,000 fire truck.

Trustee Brandon Magner wasn’t able to provide an estimate yet on what the purchase may do to township residents’ taxes.

He said he believes the payments would be covered or nearly covered by the cumulative fire fund tax that residents currently pay, but he had to talk to his adviser about whether that could be diverted directly to pay the loan or if a separate “debt service” fund would have to be established.

Proceeds from the sale of two Brown County Volunteer Fire trucks — one sold and one not yet — will be applied to this purchase to bring down the loan amount, Magner said.

The new truck the firefighters are looking at is a two-wheel-drive rescue truck that can haul 7 tons more than the current Rescue 16, which is for sale. It would be the primary vehicle to go out on any rescue call that is not a fire, and the secondary vehicle at a fire because it can fill firefighters’ air tanks and carry water.

Magner told the board his only hesitation in taking out the loan is the station’s volunteer shortage.

Chief Dallas “Dak” Kelp spent the first half of the meeting telling the board that the department is in danger of folding and he doesn’t believe a volunteer fire force is viable anymore. Seven volunteers remain, none of them with many years of experience, and Kelp said he is leaving by the end of the year.

“The personnel issues make me pump the brakes. I don’t know,” Magner said.

If the township bought the truck, Kelp said it would belong to the township, not the fire department.

Gerald “Joe” Miller made the motion to approve and fellow board members Tim Cunningham and Glenda Stogsdill voted yes.

The board’s vote was the first in a 14-step process to acquire the truck, which could take as long as 5 months if taxpayers decide to petition the county auditor’s office against the loan, Magner said.

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.