The West Johnston Fire Department (WJFD) can proceed with the purchase of a new 2020 KME fire truck after Johnston County Commissioners approved a tax exempt loan for the agency.
Jimmy Wilkins, representing the WJFD, appeared before Commissioners at their Jan. meeting requesting approval for a $400,000 loan with First Citizens Bank for a term of 5 years. First Citizens was not the lowest bidder.
UCB Bank had submitted a bid of 2.95% while First Citizens had submitted a bid of 2.98%. Wilkins requested permission to finance the new truck with First Citizens, even though they had a slightly higher interest rate, saying the volunteer fire department had been banking with them since the early 1960’s. “We’ve had a previous relationship, a long time banking relationship,” Wilkins said.
Assistant County Manager Chad McLamb said the difference in interest over the 5 year loan was only $300.
Commissioner Butch Lawter questioned “how much is enough” when not selecting the lowest bidder. Commissioner Vice Chairman Chad Stewart responded, “Relationships matter.”
The Board voted 6-to-0 to approve the West Johnston Fire Department loan with First Citizens Bank. The Board also took a moment to recognize Mr. Wilkins for 48 years as a volunteer in the fire service.
Commissioner Jeff Carver, who is employed by First Citizens, abstained from the discussions and vote.
2018 File Photo courtesy JoCoFire.com