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Re: E-M:/ Ann Arbor Energy Forum February 8th



David,
Thank you for responding.
My criticism was not directed at the people like yourself who toil quietly behind the scenes at city hall. I'm sure you're doing a great job.
My comments were aimed at the City Commission and Mayor who portray themselves as the bees knees when it comes to being green and progressive.
But it seems to me their record is a mixed bag.
Are you suggesting that the Council, Mayor and City Executive do not set overall policy and determine budgets for things anymore?
Also, last time I read anything about Ann Arbors financial situation, City officials were saying that there was going to be a $2.8 million budget surplus. So figuring out how to spend or not spend that extra cash is the job of the Mayor and Council, is it not?
It was the Council and Mayor who recently spent a quarter of a million bucks on the Kelthorpe group to figure out what to do with Downtown Ann Arbor, wasn't it?
So while I appreciate you taking responsibility for the hybrid decision, I wonder what your decision would have been if the budget and City expenses were in better order?
I know for my family it wasn't an easy car choice to make. You are right that the pure economics of it is a tough one to figure out. But we ultimately decided that in the long-term (say 8 to 10 years) the hybrid would pay for itself (especially with the tax credit), gas prices are likely to continue to go up, and we feel good about causing less damage to the local environment.
Smart people can disagree about hybrids. I fully acknowledge that. I'm just getting tired of the local pols always bragging about being green, when the record doesn't always justify their cockiness.
Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it.
 
Fred

"Konkle, David" <DKonkle@ci.ann-arbor.mi.us> wrote:

I response to your statement that there is "alot of GREEN-sounding stuff
coming out of Ann Arbor these days. But sometimes the reality (like the City
Council and Mayor not including hybrids in their "GREEN" Fleet of City-owned
cars) doesn't line up with their rhetoric." I would like to say that alot of
that GREEN-sounding stuff coming out of Ann Arbor IS really green. We try
to do what we can but we are certainly not perfect. There are a lot of
really good people in Ann Arbor trying to push the envelope to move us to a
more sustainable lifestyle. We are often limited by funding or rules and
regulations.
As director of the Ann Arbor Energy Office, the Clean Cities Program
(alternate fuel vehicles) and the Green Fleets Program in Ann Arbor, the
decision not to consider hybrid vehicles for purchase last year was mine,
not the Mayor's. First I have to say that we do understand the value and
reasons for buying hybrids, I have put 32,000 miles on my own personnal 2004
Prius and love it. However, at the time we were considering vehicle
recommendations for last year, we were being told that 50 people would be
losing their jobs due to budget constraints. When we can get a Ford Focus
for $13,000 it was very difficult to justify spending $22,000 for a hybrid
to do the same job. The vehicle would have saved about $400/yr in fuel
costs but that does not come close to offsetting the $9,000 in extra costs.
Over the lifetime of the vehicle the lifecycle analysis calculations, even
assuming higher re-sale value which is unproven, the hybrid does not pay for
itself. Of course the value of clean air and healthy children and
preserving limited resources of fossil fuel is high and should be
considered. This is why I own one myself.
But at a time when we were all being asked to make drastic budget cuts and
many fellow workers were facing job cuts, spending 60% extra for hybrids did
not send the right message. It's another year, and although budgets are
still tight, it does not seem as bad as last year. We will seriously
consider adding some hybrid vehicles to our fleet this year for all the
right reasons. The tight budget may not allow us to but any vehicles.
FYI, the Ann Arbor Area Clean Cities Program has put over 950 alternate fuel
vehicles on the road in Ann Arbor and displaced nearly 1,000,000 gallons of
fossil fuels last year. http://www.aacleancities.org/



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