CHARLESTON -- The city is joining other cities in the area in a class action lawsuit against a fire truck manufacturer and a distributor after City Council approval Tuesday.

Charleston along with cities like Champaign are taking part in a lawsuit against Pierce Manufacturing Inc. and Global Fire Equipment Inc. claiming that they violated the terms of the warranty on the fire trucks they have made for the cities.

Charleston purchased two fire engines and ladder truck in the early 2000s over a five-year period from the company said Tim Meister, Charleston Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief.

Meister said there is a lifetime warranty on the frame of the three fire trucks for rust and corrosion damage, and currently, all three have varying degrees of rust on the frame.

Despite this, Meister and the city claim that the company has not repaired or replaced the frames even though it is spelled out in the warranty to do so, as they claim.

"Pierce Manufacturing is not holding up their side of the warranty," he said.

Meister said they found out that Charleston was not alone.

"There are multiple cities that have purchased these, same manufacturer, same years we have, and they are having the same issues," Meister said.

So, the cities of Charleston, Champaign, Decatur, Normal, Bloomington, Peoria and Ottawa are taking action, according to city records. The law firm of Ancel Glink will represent the group of municipalities in the claims suit.

Also at the City Council meeting, council members OK'd the implementation of the business incentives the City Council accepted over a month ago.

City Clerk Deborah Muller said the measure would essentially give the city the tools to move forward with this project.

As previously reported, city officials hope the incentive program will serve as a way to jump start activity on Lincoln Avenue along with other parts of the city.

Currently, vacant lots are littered along Lincoln, one of the city's main thoroughfares.

One incentive is a two-year abatement of various city taxes for new and expanding businesses coming to Charleston, excluding those in TIF (tax increment financing) districts.

Another incentive allows businesses to get reimbursed for the city’s share of the sales taxes, which amounts to 1 percent of a 6.75 percent tax, collected from the business for a two-year period should it come in.

For those looking to build on vacant lots that have been empty for more than two continuous years, the incentive program would offer an abatement of property taxes to the city on a prorated scale based on construction costs for two years.

The measure also allows an abatement of sales taxes on construction materials used to improve an existing structure for a new business or to expand a business.

The last incentive on the list would discount permit fees, based on a prorated scale.

The measure leaves open the chance for further incentives based on the size and scale of the business coming in.


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