Dutchess vehicle purchase ignites annual environmental debate

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Each year, Dutchess County legislators consider vehicle requests from various county departments. In recent years, a growing part of the discussion is over alternate fuel vehicles.
That is driven in large part by Democrat Joel Tyner, who argues for more hybrids or electrics.
Specs included getting price quotes for vehicles “with alternative fuel modalities where appropriate.”
Deputy Public Works Commissioner Robert Balkind said for the past two years, they have asked vendors to submit quotes for both conventional and hybrid vehicles.  The last time they got quotes for hybrids was in 2014, and the price differential was about $7,000.
“We’re talking over 20 years of payback, and of course we don’t keep the cars that long, so it’s not economically viable to invest in the hybrids at this time,” Balkind said.  That could change, over time, he said.
It already has changed, argued Tyner.
“The Deputy Commissioner, Balkind, is using information that’s two years old, supposedly telling us that there’s a $7,000 price differential,” Tyner said.  “I would just maintain that the fleet commissioner of New York City said that the price differential is only $3,300.”
Other legislators responded to that noting that New York City can get a better deal by buying scores of vehicles in bulk.
A list attached to the resolution contains 12 vehicles for the Sheriff department.  Because of the nature of their use, they would have a useful life of three years. There are 17 vehicle requests coming from other departments, including public works.  Those vehicles would be expected to last five years.
An amendment proposed by Tyner to require five hybrids for specific departments was defeated.  The $872,000 bonding, as proposed, was approved by the full legislature.