City OKs spending $1.2M on hybrids for police department

LARGO — City officials are moving forward with plans to convert the city’s vehicle fleet to electric or alternative fuel by 2030, by drafting an alternative fuel-vehicle purchasing policy as part of that conversion.

Reviewed by the City Commission at its Dec. 10 work session, the policy is part of the city’s Environmental Action Plan to become 100 percent reliant on renewable energy by 2035.

Public Works Director Matthew York said the policy is part of the goal is to reduce the city’s light-vehicle count as it switches over to an all-alternative fuel vehicle fleet by 2030.

“The plan is to reduce the number of vehicles in fleet with vehicles shared or traded off,” York said. “We are well on our way to making this happen.”

York said the city will buy four additional Toyota Rav4 hybrids and 22 Ford Interceptors with hybrid drive trains for the police department by the end of fiscal year 2021, giving it 32 alternative-fuel vehicles representing 10.9 percent of its fleet.

The city plans to buy 25-30 hybrid, electric or alternative fuel vehicles a year for the next 10 years, York said.

On Dec. 17, commissioners approved spending just over $1.2 million in Penny for Pinellas sales tax funds on some of those vehicles for the police department, including the 22 hybrid Interceptors for patrol, one Ford Escape hybrid vehicle for the Problem Oriented Policing unit and three Escape hybrids for the Volunteers in Policing unit. 

Several commissioners praised the proposed alternative fuel vehicle purchasing policy.

“This is a great plan,” Commissioner Jamie Robinson said. “It’s something I’ve wanted to see for a while; I am glad to see it put into writing.”

Robinson suggested the commission consider including the charging stations infrastructure cost when planning future city buildings.

“We need to have the infrastructure in place. I’d like to start looking at that,” Robinson said.

Commissioner John Carroll asked whether the new vehicles will require additional training for public works personnel.

Largo Fleet Manager Tim Perry said additional public work staff maintenance training will be needed once the city switches over to all-electric or alternative fuel vehicles.

Perry added that the city’s vehicle maintenance costs will drop when it converts to an all-electric fleet with fewer motor parts.

SOURCE: tbnweekly.com