Thursday, January 07, 2010

Update on the Esslinger antique fire truck

As readers no doubt recall, the Oshkosh Common Council voted in November to accept an antique fire truck purchased by Mayor Paul Esslinger and reimburse him through independently-raised funds, up to $11,000, for his expenses in purchasing and relocating the 1915 fire truck to Oshkosh from Illinois, insuring it, etc. Three “fundraising events” were discussed and presumably have all been held now, and yet, the money raised seems to be a far cry from what Esslinger was hoping to get.

A communication I received yesterday from city staff indicated that the fire truck fund had $1,720 in donations and that the firefighters had raised an additional $810 through internal fundraising, for a total, thus far, of $2,530. Any amount raised from the third and final fundraiser has not yet been turned over to the city and is not yet known, but I think it is safe to assume it will not garner the rest of the money needed to make Esslinger “whole” on his approximately $11,000 in expenses.

This is the month the truck is to be turned over to the City, but the way the city attorney explained it to me, Esslinger does not have to turn it over if sufficient money has not been raised to reimburse him his costs, up to the $11,000 the council approved. Given the projected shortfall, and barring any last minute rabbits Esslinger can pull out of a hat, it will be quite interesting to see just how honorable his intentions of preserving part of our history and giving a “gift” to the City are.

Will he turn it over and take only the money that’s been raised, possibly using the shortfall as a write-off on his taxes as a charitable donation to his beloved city? Will he hold on to his fire truck and possibly sell it on eBay to the highest bidder? Or will he choose to do something else with it altogether? The clock is ticking, Paul; and the city is waiting - and watching.


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