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Flagler Beach Rejects Commissioner Carney’s Proposal to Put $600,000 Fire Truck Buy on Hold

| August 28, 2014

Kim Carney, who chairs the Flagler Beach City Commission, devoted a lengthy presentation to justify her opposition to the city purchase of a $600,00 fire truck, which Commissioner Steve Settle, right, has advocated for. (© FlaglerLive)

Kim Carney, who chairs the Flagler Beach City Commission, devoted a lengthy presentation to justify her opposition to the city purchase of a $600,00 fire truck, which Commissioner Steve Settle, right, has advocated for. (© FlaglerLive)

The votes weren’t there for Flagler Beach City Commissioner and Chairperson Kim Carney’s proposal to put on hold a $600,000 purchase of a fire truck dubbed a “quint.”

By around sundown Thursday, two hours into the commission’s meeting and about one hour into the latest of a half dozen discussions on the proposed truck buy,  it was still 4-1 for a new truck.

Commissioner Joy McGrew made clear that she was not interested in changing course. “I won’t vote to pull it out of the budget,” she said. Commissioner Steve Settle, getting choked up, seconded her. And Commissioner Jane Mealy added her support for the purchase. It was the clearest, on-the-record vote (without an actual vote) for the truck buy so far this summer. And though he was absent, Commissioner Marshal Shupe had made his position for the truck clear, as well as his position against Carney, especially in an August 26 memo to the city clerk attributing his absence today to family commitments of long date. “This vendetta against the Fire Department must stop,” Shupe wrote. “These individuals have never been active in a Fire Department, or they have not been active in many years.”

“It’s pretty clear where we stand,” Settle said, when he had regained his composure.

A petition that circulated around town earlier this month picked up 650 signatures opposed to the proposed buy and at least nudged commissioners who had already nodded their approval for the truck buy to at least think it over, but not by much. The pro-truck commissioners were quick to dismiss the petition as invalid or bearing a lot of unproven signatures. So was Mayor Linda Provencher, who said to Carney that on a previous issue a few years ago, it was Carney who rejected the validity of a petition.

“We can’t pick and choose what petition we want to accept or what we want not to accept,” Provencher said. “It’s either all or nothing. This is nothing.”

Unbowed, Carney pleaded against rushing into the $600,000 buy. “We are spending money like a bunch of banshees,” she said, pleading for a delay this year.

But when she made a motion to pull the truck buy proposal out of the budget this year and “think about what we’re doing,” the motion died for lack of a second: the rest of the commission had snubbed Carney.

“I resent the fact that you think the rest of us don’t think,” Mealy said immediately after the vote. “The fact that the rest of us don’t think just because we don’t agree with you, I resent that.”

Carney had reserved a segment of the meeting to lay out an extensive case against the immediate purchase of the quint, or any truck, this year. Carney made a broad-ranging presentation that sought to underscore what she sees as a recurring theme in the fire department’s push for a new fire truck, a so-called “quint,” for $600,000: “The money does not add up.” She argued with a PowerPoint presentation that the justification for a new truck is absent, the need to replace the city’s existing tower engine unproven, the money to pay for a new truck not available, and the process that led to the commission being pressured to buy the truck by the administration questionable.

“There is no justification of a quint based on the actual number of calls,” Carney said, when 90 percent of all emergency calls are for an ambulance, not for a fire. Even in the case of fire calls, in the past seven months, the city’s Tower 11 was dispatched nine times and cancelled all nine times. The city’s existing mutual aid agreements with Flagler County and Palm Coast ensure that fire engines are at the scene of fires quickly and effectively, “whether we want them or not,” Carney said. Tower 11, however, “is working,” she said.

The city administration last year argued that the truck should be maintained. This year it’s arguing it should be traded in for a quint because it’s too old. Carne y believes it’s useful but not essential, and certainly not calling for a replacement. “Something is broken, but I do not believe it is the truck,” she said.

“We have other needs in our city that are not being taken into account,” including a loan payment due on the city’s $700,000 downtown Community Redevelopment Agency loan.

Click On:

“My request is for the commission to slow down. We are the ones who are purchasing this vehicle,” Carney said, ridiculing the notion that the city’s firefighters could make the decision to buy the truck without the city commission. The city administration has deferred much of the advocacy for truck to firefighters, though the ultimate decision is in the commission’s hands.  “The facts are we have not determined a need for our community,” Carney said. “The justification is not there, the evaluation of the equipment is not there, the money is not there.”

Carney was also strongly opposed to the city administration’s plan to finance the $600,000 truck. Only $200,000 of that would come from a special fund established almost four years ago to set aside $50,000 a year for the purchase of new fire trucks. The remaining $400,000 would be pulled out of the city’s infrastructure fund, which is fed by the city’s share of the county’s sales surtax revenue. “We are stripping that fund, and I am opposed to stripping that fund,” Carney said.

Provencher was curious about Carney’s long-term aim: whether she was opposed to a truck purchase outright—any truck—or whether she just needed more time. Carney said she needs more time to make a decision for “what’s right for our city,” but also to ensure that the money is in the right fund to finance a new truck.

The meeting drew no more people than two previous town hall meetings focused on the fire truck issue—some 25 people, not including reporters, city staffers and about 10 members of the fire department. When Carney opened the floor, those who spoke followed the same pattern as those town hall meetings: short strings of opponents to the proposal tangled with short strings of proponents, though in this case the proponents were the fire captain, Bobby Pace, and one of his lieutenants, David Kennedy, the latter referring on three occasions to arguments against the purchase as “propaganda.”  In all, about half a dozen people spoke in opposition to the proposal, while Pace, Kennedy and two current or past volunteers with the department, spoke in favor. One more resident spoke on the firefighters’ side, but touching on broader matters than the truck buy.

Pace reiterated many of the points he or other firefighters made in previous town hall meetings held to market the proposed buy, but also answering more recent criticism of the proposal. “I had high hopes of keeping that truck for several years,” Pace said. “That being said, a lot has happened over a year,” Pace said. “I do not think that Tower 11 was a bad purchase for this city.” The truck provided five years of service, he said. Fifteen firefighters have been certified to use aerial firefighting equipment, he said, countering the contention that the department would have to have additional staff to run the new quint.

“We are more prepared with this truck for the what-ifs,” Pace said. “Palm Coast and Flagler Beach will provide mutual aid if needed,” he said, but with 10 minutes’ response time compared to closer to four or five minutes from Flagler Beach.

Commissioner Kim Carney’s Presentation on Proposed Fire Truck Purchase (2014)

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16 Responses for “Flagler Beach Rejects Commissioner Carney’s Proposal to Put $600,000 Fire Truck Buy on Hold”

  1. Original Floridian says:

    No comment except……FB going under….

  2. Dlf says:

    Look out tax increases.

  3. Nancy says:

    Fantastic…glad purchasing the fire truck…and a huge, in general THANK YOU to all the brave men and women first responder/fire fighters who protect us and our property 24/7, 365 days a year. You all do an incredible job.

  4. It gets old to hear from anyone that the signatories on the petition are from Mars or some other location other than Flagler Beach. The people that collected them are long term residents and know almost every street.. Commissioner McGrew publicly stated that many signatures were invalid and if you want them call her — good luck –no answer over and over again.

    Any friend of the a fore mentioned Commissioner, please have her post them (oops) forgot she has no email and yet it is 20014 and she is an elected official ??? Post the page and names Commissioner they they will be verified.

  5. ScotchRox says:

    Crying! There’s no crying in commission meetings!

    WTF was that Commissioner Settles??

    I watched it live via streaming on my computer.

    I couldn’t believe what I saw…

  6. farmer says:

    Kim Carney is correct on the truck .And as it appears we are always behind the co. in arriving at most of the calls they rule on the use of equipment and all else.

  7. Steve Wolfe says:

    Is someone getting a kick back on this purchase? Why are so many non-firefighters sure that FB needs this truck? It sounds like some previous and current needs are being neglected for the sake of the truck buy. It’s as if these commissioners want to mimic the FCBOCC with their own senseless big ticket unneeded purchase like an abandoned, contaminated, moldy hospital. Is that what puts us on the map? Is that how elected people get their faces in the paper? Ahh, who cares. We’ll just invent another new tax to pay for it after we discover our budget shortfall that we “never saw coming.”

  8. Rick Belhumeur says:

    I’m disappointed with the lack of input by the citizens. People on both sides of this issue need to tell their commissioners where they stand. Even if you threw out half of the signatures on the petition, that still leaves over 300 tax paying citizens that said no to the purchase at this time. These are the people that need to contact the commissioners and share their thoughts. If you can’t get up from you TV sets and state your position about how YOUR city dollars are spent, they will continue to spend them irresponsibly.

  9. Truth Seeker says:

    Kim Carney hit the nail on the head with that presentation.

  10. confidential says:

    Kudos to commissioner Carney. Brave lady fighting all alone against the special interest benefitting system!

  11. joy mcgrew says:

    in response to the invalid petition signatures, bring the original petition with the original signatures to city hall OR take it to the Supervisor of Elections Office and I will personally pay the elections office to validate the signatures. if I am incorrect is my statements, I will publically apologize.
    in response to the phone calls and emails I don’t receive, my phone number has been published in the phone directory for 32 years and I have a answering machine. . as far as emails, seems like too many times the emails are negative and unsigned… an easy way out for the messenger. every email that is sent to commissioners via city addresses, I receive a paper copy.

    • Rick Belhumeur says:

      The petition wasn’t meant to be a legal document… It was done as an attempt to share with the commission and staff what a lot of people are thinking. No one said to get rid of the fire department, they signed a paper that said: “It is therefore my conclusion that it is premature and unnecessary for the City of Flagler Beach to purchase a $600,000 aerial fire truck, or any fire truck, during the 2014-15 fiscal year”. What is the hurry? Our little city is safe with what we have for now. This proposed purchase is over twice as much as what the city has ever spent on firefighting equipment in the past and due diligence needs to be performed by not just the fire department personnel, but those that have control of the checkbook. Most of those signatures were collected in less than two weeks by going door to door and I am sure that the majority of them are Flagler Beach taxpayers, registered voters or both. You might not see many of them at commission meetings, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. These people have just been told that their opinion doesn’t matter by nearly the entire commission. Get an accurate consensus, poll the people with a straw vote along with the city election this coming spring.

      • Steve Wolfe says:

        Some of these FB commissioners seem to have the same kind of arrogance as the FCBOCC, disregarding the public interest when they far overpaid for that zombie apocalypse movie set, aka old Flagler Hospital. Sadly, voters just bypassed the opportunity to bump some of them out in the primary and add tax payer advocates with no insider influences.

        Is there a “damn the taxpayers” virus going around Flagler County? First we allowed the FCBOCC to get away with so many tax increases and the hospital purchase to bail out the well-heeled, leaving us to hold the bag as they pursue greater political ambitions. Maybe the way to impress Tallahassee is to demonstrate the ability to force things down the throats of the citizens because “they know better than us.” Maybe that’s the insider definition of “effective leadership.”

  12. what's the hurry? says:

    The city has tried from the beginning to hide this purchase from the residents. Learn what the City of Flagler Beach has conveniently not told the residents and taxpayers about this purchase. Go to for more information.

  13. PJ says:

    I’m just not sure if the right information is being passed on. But be careful of what you purchase!

    I have to say if the department is in need of a replacement truck then givie it to them. If they are just buying “The Mack Daddy” truck because they are buying the “BEST” then let’s think and ask a few important questions.

    I guess the first question I’d ask is How many years of experience in total does this fire company have in total. I here it is around 10 years of total experience. That raises a red flag to me because they may be buying the wrong truck to do the job simply because they don’t know what questions to ask.

    Question 2: can this truck even raise up to the tall buildings in FB without have to position the truck far away you may only be able to hit the 2nd or third floor. (You need an assement of the surroundings by a qualified Chief)? with far more years than the current staff member remember public safety first, right?

    Question 3: I think the County has a ladder truck of this size in the Hammock? When needed call on that truck, maybe in fact that truck don’t roll out much either, but well needed for the Hammock and looks like it can reach the highest points (WHY you ask?) Purchased correctly by a qualified Chief I guess.

    Bruce Cambell believe in his guys, should support them and likely they are somewhat correct in the needs of FB but they just need some lessons in how to buy the big stuff.

    Start with the proper assesment that will give you the answer……..PJ

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