By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — Board members for the Boyceville Ambulance District have reluctantly decided not to purchase a used ambulance for $35,000 described as the “Cadillac” of ambulances.
The ambulance, all completely customized down to the last rivet, was $280,000 brand new and only came up for sale because the fire department that had it in Massachusetts received a grant to buy a new ambulance, said Matt Feeney, ambulance director, at the ambulance district’s March 12 meeting.
The Horton ambulance, which is the only ambulance used by the New York City fire department, has 86,000 miles on it and was new in 2006, Feeney said.
Boyceville’s 2002 Med 10 ambulance has 33,000 miles and currently is valued at $16,000, he said.
“Ambulances depreciate in value quickly,” Feeney noted.
Feeney said he had talked to the fire chief who originally had the 2006 Horton.
“It’s in perfect condition. They got a grant for a new ambulance, and the old one had to go,” he said.
The 2006 Horton, while it was in service out East, was taken back to the Horton facility in Ohio annually for a once-over, and the fire department had an on-duty diesel mechanic who could take care of any problems right away, Feeney said.
The actual asking price for the Horton ambulance is $55,000, and Boyceville’s Med 10 is worth $16,000, but Feeney said he had convinced the dealer to take Med 10 on a trade-in for $20,000, leaving Boyceville with a final cost of $35,000 for the 2006 Horton.
The Horton has a box that can be remounted on another chassis at some point in the future. Boyceville’s Med 11 also has a remountable box. Med 10 does not have a remountable box, Feeney said.
The “box” is the back part of the ambulance that carries patients, EMTs and supplies.
Remounting boxes on new chassis saves about half of the cost of a new ambulance, Feeney said.
A new ambulance might cost around $150,000, but if the box is remounted on a new chassis, the total cost for the chassis and the remount is about $75,000.
Feeney said he thought the Horton box would last for at least 20 years and could be remounted several times.
“That would be a huge savings farther down the line,” he said.
In three to five years, Med 10 “will not be worth anything,” Feeney noted.
If the ambulance district board approved the purchase, Feeney said he and another EMT would drive Med 10 out to New Jersey and would drive the Horton back to Boyceville.
“It’s an excellent rig for $35,000 … it’s an excellent rig that will last,” he said.
Feeney said he had not spent $20,000 of his budget last year, and that he had asked the EMTs, and they were willing to postpone certain purchases this year in order to buy the ambulance.
At the time that the ambulance district board approved remodeling the old Keyes building for the ambulance service, the agreement was that Boyceville would postpone buying an ambulance and would put that money toward the building.
Although the ambulance district board did have a quorum, only four board members were there representing the townships — and three out of the four are not running for election in April.
Several board members were of the opinion that not enough people were present to actually make a decision on buying the Horton ambulance.
Feeney said he had put $1,000 down to hold the Horton ambulance and that the dealer had agreed to hold the vehicle until the March 12 meeting.
The $1,000 down payment is refundable, Feeney said.
Feeney said he had asked what they could get outright for Med 10 and was told $13,000, so the $20,000 as a trade-in was more than fair.
“It’s a great deal but it’s bad timing,” said Scott Anderson, representing the Town of Tiffany.
Anderson wondered what could be trimmed off the remodeling project to make up the difference for the ambulance.
Feeney said he had budgeted this year for radios, pagers and additional safety gear but that the EMTs could get by without those and were also willing to sacrifice new uniforms and boots for this year.
“I understand the inconvenience of the timing … but I’m always looking for the biggest bang for the smallest dollar,” Feeney said.
“I do not see us approving this tonight,” said Gilbert Krueger, chair of the ambulance district.
“We were all unprepared for this … and we barely have a quorum,” he said.
“I would not be doing my job if I didn’t bring this to your attention,” Feeney replied.
Krueger noted that it was always a possibility the building project would be completed for less than anticipated and that the Boyceville ambulance service could then buy an ambulance later this year.
The Boyceville Ambulance District meets next on April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Boyceville village hall.