Greenwood ARPA funds could be used for fire trucks, cameras

Greenwood’s city council is considering using over $400,000 in federal relief funds to help pay for fire trucks and security cameras.

City officials are proposing using about $314,814 in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, to pay for a vendor surcharge on a fire engine and a ladder truck. The remaining funds would be used to purchase new security cameras for the Greenwood Fieldhouse parking garage, and replace cameras at the Indy South Greenwood Airport and the Greenwood Police Department Training Center.

The ARPA ordinance was introduced Wednesday and will have two more readings next month. The last reading could possibly be its final passage if the council approves of it.

Fire trucks

A ladder truck and an engine for the Greenwood Fire Department were ordered in 2021. The equipment was initially set to be delivered within 12 months of purchasing, city controller Greg Wright told the city council Wednesday night.

However, city officials were contacted last month by the company they purchased the vehicles from. The company indicated it was “no longer economically feasible” for them to build the trucks at the price the city contracted them to build at in 2021, Wright said.

If the city wanted them to be built anytime soon, then they would have to pay a surcharge.

Officials met with company representatives, who said the surcharge was driven by supply chain complications. The company had seen increasing prices for steel and engines.

For the company’s business model, they base the pricing on what they expect the increases to be by the time they build the vehicles, based on historical numbers. They did not anticipate the supply chain problems seen after the coronavirus pandemic, Wright said.

“Now all of the costs have skyrocketed on the equipment,” he said. “They did provide us a breakdown of all of the cost increases. As far as the equipment goes, there is no increase associated with their labor or any of that, so that is all on their end.”

Officials did reach out to some of the company’s competitors to see what it would take to get the ladder truck and engine through them. The pricing options presented were higher than the city’s current contract, and the minimum time for delivery would be at least three years from now, Wright said.

They also discussed the situation with the city’s legal department, who ultimately said the city would need to agree to the surcharge to get the vehicles on time.

“Once all of that is settled, they will give us delivery dates on the equipment,” Wright said.

Council member Michael Williams later asked about the contract’s enforceability. Wright said the current contract has nothing enforceable about the pricing, and he questioned whether there would be anything to make the next contract enforceable.

The city does have a third piece of apparatus on order with the company, however, the company said they don’t expect to add a surcharge to that right now.

Realistically though, because of how the contract is set up, the city hasn’t paid them anything yet.

“Basically, even if we were to get something out of them, we can’t force them to build the thing,” Wright said. “They’re not going to build it unless they get paid.”

This could lead to a legal fight that ultimately ends up with the city only getting little compensation and no ladder truck or fire engine for another three years. But with the surcharge paid, the company will commit to the delivery dates for the city, he said.

Security cameras

The rest of the ARPA funds would be used to purchase security cameras for the fieldhouse garage, airport and police training center.

Through the city’s agreements with the developer of the fieldhouse parking garage, the developer has already agreed to give $120,000 to pay for security cameras. However, city officials are looking at a new system called Avigilon that would cost more, Wright said.

For the airport, the city is planning to upgrade the facility’s current system and add cameras to cover additional areas. For the training center, the cameras are aging and most cameras at the training center have had system issues recently, he said.

Several nearby school systems are already using Avigilon, and if officials determined it met the city’s needs, both the fire and police chiefs would be to get access to the schools’ camera systems.

“If there were an emergency, they would literally be able to pull up those cameras and see what’s going on inside of the school buildings. So that’s a big plus,” Wright said.

Additionally, all of the equipment for the new system is made in the United States. All of the current cameras are made in China, and there are security concerns about accessibility, he said.

If officials like the new Avigilon system, then they will come back to request more money to expand its usage across the city, replacing the current cameras, Wright said.