Members of the Childersburg City Council voted 5-1 Thursday evening to spend $32,500 to get a $650,000 ladder truck for the fire department.

Councilman Billy Lester voted against the appropriation during the called meeting, citing concerns about the city’s finances, Mayor B.J. Meeks said after the meeting.

“Money is tight, but our financial report looks pretty good,” Meeks said. He said the city has received $200,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for two quarters of expenses for the SAFER grant, which pays the salaries of 12 firefighters. The city will receive another check for $70,000 to $80,000 in October from the grant proceeds.

“That’s what cut our cash flow down. You have to pay that up front and get reimbursed,” Meeks said.

The mayor said he’s excited about the capabilities the new truck will give the fire department, for taller structures or shorter ones.

“This can battle a fire at a one-level house better than another fire truck would,” Meeks said.

And, he said the added capability may make Childersburg more attractive to industrial prospects.

“It just makes sense to come up with $32,500 to get the value of a $650,000 truck,” Meeks said. “I would hate to get into a situation down the road when we really need a ladder truck and need to come up with $600,000 to $700,000 and not be able to. This should put us in good shape for fire equipment for a long time.”

In recent years, the Childersburg Fire Department has received grant funding to buy trucks, turnout gear, hydraulic rescue tools, a cardiac monitor, breathing apparatus and more.

“I appreciate Congressman (Mike) Rogers helping us get that grant,” Meeks said.

Rogers, R-Anniston, announced earlier this month that Childersburg will receive $617,500 for the truck, and the Lay Lake Volunteer Fire Department will also receive $231,325 through the 2013 Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

“Everyone is excited here,” Childersburg acting fire chief Tim Shelnutt said when Rogers’ office announced the grant last month. “A ladder truck will help our ISO rating, which is great for our residents.”

Fire officials speculate the presence of a ladder truck could improve the city’s homeowners insurance rating by one point.

Contact Bill Kimber at