North Providence’s “new” rescue truck, purchased for $83,000.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – The town’s latest piece of equipment is, like most vehicles the town acquires, not brand new, which is a great thing for taxpayers, says Mayor Charles Lombardi.

The mayor said he continues to find deals few others in the state are able or willing to find, purchasing a used rescue truck from a wealthier fire department in Virginia for $85,000.

The frontline vehicle is three years old and has about 50,000 miles on it, said the mayor, and he’s guessing it will be good for at least five to six years.

By comparison, Central Falls recently purchased a new rescue for $315,000, he said, while Providence spent $230,000.

Asked why he thinks other communities don’t get better deals, Lombardi, who is president of the League of Cities and Towns, was succinct.

“I don’t think they try,” he said. “We’re not willing to spend that kind of money.”

North Providence is perhaps at a bit of a natural advantage in being able to get a truck with a little more mileage given the fact that the town is only 5 square miles and has a hospital, Our Lady of Fatima, within its borders, said Lombardi.

“Our trucks don’t accumulate the mileage,” he said.

The typical rescue run probably averages about 6 miles there and back, he said, and while some runs do go to Miriam Hospital or Rhode Island Hospital, about 70 percent of those going to Fatima.

“We take advantage of that,” he said. “We haven’t bought a new truck in 15 years.”

From snowplows to golf carts, Lombardi has frequently landed cheap deals with offers far lower than he says most municipal officials would be willing to make. He says he’s often the only one at state auctions, going home with multiple used vehicles for the price of one.

The practice has drawn praise from some residents, but also criticism from opponents who say the mayor buys junk and then wastes money on maintenance and rebuilding costs.

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