AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — A commission committee’s recommendation for funding new fire trucks is being described as ‘not so hot.’

“That was thrown out there in the middle of, wow, nowhere, you know I wasn’t satisfied with that number at all,” said Commissioner John Clarke.

Fire Chief Antonio Burden wants almost $7 million in Rescue Act funds for new fire trucks and light vehicles. The Public Safety committee’s recommendation? $3 million, because commissioners say only about $8 million in unassigned Rescue Act funds remain.  

 “I did not want to use up all the federal money that we had available because there’s a lot of other projects we could use the moneys for,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.  

In the past, the Fire Department used Sales Tax money for fire trucks. But vehicle funding for the department was left out of the SPLOST package approved last year, and that has some second guessing that decision.

“I want to know why they weren’t included in the previous SPLOST package, a service as important as fire protection we have to make sure they’re funded that there funded properly,” said Commissioner Jordan Johnson.

It will be six years before the city is ready for the next SPLOST, but the fire department will need vehicles that will be cost local tax dollars, not federal ones.

“If we do not fund this equipment next year, you are going to have to look at the millage rate and the taxes again and the citizens are going to end up paying,” said Commissioner Clarke.  

The full commission could increase the amount of funds for fire trucks during final approval next week instead of letting this issue smolder.