MALONE - After repeatedly revisiting the issue over the last few weeks, Franklin County legislators decided not to accept a former bookmobile to use for emergency services.
Despite one of them flipping his vote in favor of taking the truck - board Chairman Gordon Crossman, D-Malone - Legislator and Public Safety Committee Chairman Marc "Tim" Lashomb, R-Malone, couldn't drum up the four votes needed to accept it.
Legislators have been skeptical about taking the bookmobile, which they helped buy for the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System in 2006, because they are concerned about hidden costs.
The bookmobile went out of service last year after the library system decided it could no longer afford to run it. Now the library system wants to give the large bus to Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties so they can use it in emergencies as a mobile command center and communication station.
Over the last few board meetings, legislators wondered whether Essex County was going to hop on board to take the bookmobile and, if it didn't, whether it would want money in return for its initial investment in the vehicle.
As it turned out, Essex County will not take the vehicle and will not request anything in return for it.
Lashomb asked his colleagues to make a final decision on it at a Thursday committee meeting.
Legislator Paul Maroun, R-Tupper Lake, also a volunteer fireman in Tupper Lake, has been on the fence about the topic until now, but he told his fellow legislators Thursday that he could not support it because he doesn't believe the truck is absolutely needed.
"I've thought a lot about this," Maroun said.
Maroun said the library system board should never have made the offer and instead should have sold the bookmobile.
The board is still asking the county in its next budget for the same annual contribution, which was always labeled as money to run the bookmobile, saying that money is needed to keep the library system's doors open. Maroun said he plans to strongly question the library board when Franklin County is working on its budget, since he argues it is giving up a potential revenue source in the bookmobile.
"I think they're making a big mistake," Maroun said.
Legislators Sue Robideau, R-Brushton, David "Billy" Jones, D-Chateaugay, and Guy "Tim" Smith, D-Fort Covington, all voted no, saying they agreed with Maroun and didn't feel the vehicle is needed.
Legislator Tim Burpoe, D-Saranac Lake, is the only legislator other than Lashomb who supported taking the bookmobile since the topic came up.
"I think this is a small amount of a money relative to a $116 million budget," Burpoe said.
He said the county could easily do a one-year test period, limiting its spending on the vehicle to $2,000, and then re-evaluate from there.
"I think (county Emergency Services Director) Ricky (Provost) has made a compelling argument," Burpoe said.
Provost has said an emergency truck would be useful since the county's emergency squads can't communicate with one another because they operate on different wavelengths, but if all the different agencies had radio equipment in the truck, they could communicate.
Several legislators said that if Franklin County needs new radio equipment, the county should buy new radio equipment.
Burpoe argued that buying new radio equipment would cost more than it would to take the truck.
Lashomb said he thought it would have been worth it to take the vehicle, since there have been some serious emergencies in the county in recent years, and there are sure to be more in the future. But he accepted the outcome of the vote.
"I respect the democratic process," Lashomb said.