I’m a proactive kind of guy. In the last few years I’ve tried to get our Town’s leadership to look beyond the immediate to address the foreseeable needs of our community and preparing for the consequences of our local and national policies.
In some cases, like moving forward on improving our Town’s communications infrastructure, hiring an economic development officer, doing a professional technology assessment, bridging the digital divide, I’ve had some success.
In others, like bolstering our commercial tax base, growing jobs, making practical improvements Downtown, adopting measurable energy efficiency standards, budget process refinements, fleshing out the Horace-Williams Citizens Committee’s principles on the environment, not as much.
Here’s an example of my attempt to make our Town operations more sustainable from September, 2005:
3a(10). Will Raymond, regarding Agenda Item #5b, Fuel Supply, Cost and Budget Issues for the Townâ€™s General Municipal Fleet and Transit Bus Fleet.
Mr. Raymond petitioned the Council regarding Agenda Item #5b, Fuel Supply, Cost and Budget Issues for the Townâ€™s General Municipal Fleet and Transit Bus Fleet. He noted he had sent the Council an email regarding the purchase of bio-diesel fuel, and was pleased that shortly after that the Town had purchased 1,000 gallons. Mr. Raymond said that was a â€œfantasticâ€ first step and hoped the Town would follow up on that, noting that at the present time bio-diesel fuel was 20 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper than diesel or kerosene.
Mr. Raymond said there appeared to be some confusion in the agenda item, noting there had been some discussion that they could burn bio-diesel fuel in their buses, and now they were saying that maybe they could not. So, he said, he had called Detroit Engine that made the engines for the buses, and they were recommending to their customers that a 20 percent blend was â€œperfectly suitableâ€ for those engines. Mr. Raymond said that Detroit Engine had indicated they would be happy to work with the Town and could possibly get that blend higher. He encouraged the Town to contact them and take that action.
Mr. Raymond also suggested that since they were running at a deficit within the fuel budget that they today start with targeted reductions in the amount of fuel they were using. He said they still have vehicles that idle wastefully, and that yesterday he had observed a Town vehicle left idling for two hours. Mr. Raymond said with the price of gasoline that was unacceptable behavior. He asked that the Council take immediate action to conserve fuel.
THE COUNCIL AGREED BY CONSENSUS TO REFER MR. RAYMONDâ€™S COMMENTS TO AGENDA ITEM #5b.
Two years and several calls for adopting energy goals later, we still haven’t moved forward on targeted reductions in traditional fuel usage.
Our Town’s budget is built on assumptions that are “priced for perfection”. Slow housing growth, a flattening or decreasing trend in property valuations, a macro-economic downturn – like recession or any of another, foreseeable, bumps in our economic road will lead to higher taxes and lessened services.
$4 to $5 a gallon gasoline is a predictable trend – and an expected outcome if the Iraq war lingers or we open a new front in Iran – yet, what has our current leadership done to prepare our Town for the consequences of this one increase?
Nothing. Further delay is not our friend.