Tuesday, April 03, 2007

FUEL EFFICIENT VEHICLES--PLAN OF ACTION PROPOSED

The Greenburgh Town Board met in work session today. We discussed developing a plan to purchase fuel efficient vehicles as part of our fleet. I believe that the town should take the lead on this important energy conservation measure and support a plan to phase in the purchase of only energy efficient vehicles (such as hybrid vehicles). Thank you Nikki Coddington, energy conservation coordinator, for your hard work promoting energy conservation!

15 comments:

hal samis said...

What do you do in work session?
The Agenda that was posted this morning only listed Executive Session. The one that is on the website now has added Theodore Young Community Center - by laws.

This discussion was not listed.
How many other things are discussed under the catch-all, Executive Session?

Jim Lasser said...

NY State's Open Meetings Law requires the posting of an agenda, giving appropriate public notice of the meeting and making the minutes of such meetings available in a timely fashion. Hal is right on target with this criticism. Where was the timely posting of the agenda? If the public session adjourned to executive session there must be a motion to do so, which strongly suggests there should be minutes. Where can I read the minutes of the work session?
The Committee of Open Government of the State of New York has repeated outlined the only acceptable reasons for executive sessions. If you need a refresher they are: Those portions of contract negotiations which discuss specific contract terms; Personnel matters which specific to particular individuals; Discussions of matters which are in litigation by the Town. There aren't any exceptions and the rules are meant to be strictly construed. Hal, those are standards a professional town manager would know about and abide by - unlike the current political administration. I would have liked to take credit for the long anonymous piece which begins the April 2 section because I share many of the sentiments expressed. I choose however to sign all of my submissions...

Anonymous said...

Why not start by purchasing smaller cars for town employees.

Anonymous said...

Good idea as long as their cost-efficient in the big picture (maintenance, depreciation, re-sale, etc.). And don't buy a fleet just for the fun and notoriety of it. Do a complete inventory of each town-owned auto, and buy the hybrids only as current autos are completely out of commission.

Anonymous said...

why are there so many town cars needed. other than police cars? no one where i work gets a car. what about you hal?

Anonymous said...

Feiner stopped the practice of letting town employees take home cars years ago. the town needs cars. The building dept employees need cars to make inspections. Assessors office needs cars to evaluate property. Public works needs vehicles for public works issues. Recreation staff have to get to parks. Etc...

Anonymous said...

It seems to me a pool arrangment for cars would be best. I would think most parks employees go to one facility (pool, rec center, etc) and stay their.

How many town cars are there?

Anonymous said...

To Mr. Lasser,

If the Town Board is in violation of NY State's Open Meetings law, what can be done about it? Also, does anyone know what the penalty is for a Town Board Member who is found guilty of ethics charges?

Anonymous said...

I think its a great idea, The money we will save on gas will pay for the car in the future.

hal samis said...

Does anyone in blogland know about computing a present value of money calculation. Let's assume that taxpayer's are happy to part with the money in their own pocket or bank account. And they are willing to turn it over to the Town by paying higher taxes -- either to pay for the annual operating budget cost or for the capital budget.

Now the Town has your money. It can spend this money today on new purchases or expenses, it can reduce the existing debt burden by retiring existing debt or it can invest it various prudent instruments allowable to a municipality.

Or it can "invest" in the future by buying into a lot of "pay now but save later" vehicles, most of which carry the endearing manufacturer's created energy saving label. The Library is building, if you agree they are, an energy efficient "green" building. Town Hall has roof mounted thermal panels. Fuel efficient vehicles are being contemplated.

All of them sound nice, all of them are on the "right" side and everyone should want to agree. And here is Samis again with the contrarian opinion.

What is common to all of these is that the up-front cost is much higher than those alternatives which are less feel good. The assumption is that we pay more, now but save over time. Well there are some other considerations before we jump into that moving train.

#1 is "usable life". A building lasts longer than a vehicle. Will we save enough over its usable life to justify a higher initial cost for a vehicle fleet. Has anyone run the numbers? Can we buy fuel locally for a hybrid fleet?

#2 is the assumption that the price of gas cannot go down. But as difficult as that is to grasp today, prices do fall and supply, while not inexhaustible, may expand, forcing prices down. Furthermore the current high price has less to do with the wellhead cost and more to do with speculation in oil futures.
DISCLAIMER: As has been noted elsewhere, I do not own a vehicle and thus am the most fuel efficient blogger.

#3 is the aforementioned present value of money. Money has a value if deployed. Thus money invested today is assumed to have grown to a greater value (not discussing buying power now) in the future. Thus if the taxpayer or the Town had invested the money, instead of paying higher taxes to the Town or the Town taking this money and spending more on fuel efficient vehicles, green buildings and the like, would we/the Town perhaps be better able to lower the assumed future higher operating costs of vehicles or buildings. There are calculations that have to be undertaken to prove the case. "Don't tell me, show me" says local consigliere, Bob Bernstein on all non-library matters.

But what if it is shown that there is no cost advantage? Or worst case, that it costs more? Isn't it still worthwhile to try to conserve energy? To answer this I would first ask how much energy is going to be saved. Qualify and Quantify. Oftentimes in the past Feiner has been criticized as jumping on the bandwagon without stopping to think and understand the ramifications. This entry is not an apology but likewise it is also a warning. Here is a new bandwagon. Before the Town Council hops on board, since they would view themselves as the more prudent and judicious side of government, I ask that they ask the questions, get the answers and make the case. Not marching in the parade just because the cause is "good" and might appeal to voters. And since Mr. Kaminer is being recognized for driving this bandwagon, I'm sure he has already got the answers.

WARNING: What follows bears the "P" rating for provacative content.

Finally, as the Town Board has seen fit to do in the past, that is advise the Federal government on how to conduct worldly affairs, I await their Resolution (Mr. Bass, November is only 8 months distant) on how to conserve energy: by ending the war in Iraq, more energy will be saved in one year than Greenburgh entire will consume in the next 100. Since their earlier world problem-solving efforts have yielded such potent results, why is the Greenburgh Town Board avoiding seeking the end of hostilities in Iraq. Since we so often see the phrase "win-win" appear, then wouldn't this be our biggest win-win? Saving energy and, along the way, saving the over 3500 American lives lost so far while the past, present and future values of those who died and are yet to die is incalculable?

Perhaps the Town need recognize what a true "mastercard" moment is. I know that Ms Barnes will second this "seasonal" sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Kudo's to Nikki Coddington, Greenburgh energy conservation coordinator, for working so hard to promote energy efficiency in the town. Hope the town council listens to her recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Kudo's to Nikki Coddington, Greenburgh energy conservation coordinator, for working so hard to promote energy efficiency in the town. Hope the town council listens to her recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Kudo's to Nikki Coddington, Greenburgh energy conservation coordinator, for working so hard to promote energy efficiency in the town. Hope the town council listens to her recommendations.

Anonymous said...

it is impossible to make up the price difference with hybrid cars, just downsizing the fleet to much smaller vehicles is more than sufficient, the building dept. employees go out one at a time for very limited hours outside town hall, the same holds true in most departments-

Jim Lasser said...

Has the Town adopted a policy on fuel efficient vehicles? Has there been a Town Board discussion of the financial implications of purchasing fuel efficient vehicles? Has anyone done the basic research to determine the cost differential between alternative energy vehicles over 1, 3, and 5 year usage/maintenance and repair cycles in comparison with standard vehicles?
This is another good idea in theory - hampered by a lack of thoroughness in its presentation. Please, please, please - do the real work of governing rather than focusing on the public relations aspect.