Tax Exempt Loan Approved For New West Johnston Fire Truck

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