New London will explore a move toward greener automobiles after the City Council unanimously authorized Mayor Daryl Finizio to seek financial assistance for alternative or clean fuel vehicles.
The Monday vote allows Finizio to act on behalf of the city in preparing any documents for the Connecticut Department of Transportation deemed necessary to receive funding toward the purchase of such vehicles. The Council approved the measure after accepting an amendment by Councilor Adam Sprecace to clarify that the purchase is a “potential” one and may only occur subsequent to Council approval.
Under the approval, Finizio may seek a $161,650 grant as part of the Connecticut Clean Fuel Program. The proposal calls for the grant funds to contribute $12,000 each toward the purchase of seven Ford transit vehicles, $17,450 each toward the purchase of two Ford F-350 cab and chassis, $26,250 toward a Ford F-550 cab and chassis, and $16,500 toward a Ford F-250 cab and chassis. The vehicles would be powered by compressed natural gas, with the city setting up a refueling station for this system.
Sprecace said he was initially concerned about the costs that could be associated with the upgrade. However, he said he was satisfied that the agreement only allows the city to pursue the option rather than commit to it. Public Works Director Tim Hanser said any grant funds would have to be expended by the end of this year and that the city will only receive the funds if it purchases the vehicles.
Hanser said that if purchased, the vehicles will replace older models currently in use by the Department of Public Works, Information Technology, Parking Enforcement, the Office of Development and Planning, and the Recreation Department. He has supported the clean fuel technology as a cheaper and longer lasting fuel option than gasoline.
The proposal first came to the Council in December and was approved following discussion in the Public Works Committee.