February 19, 2021 by Carol Britton Meyer
The Hingham Police Department is repurposing funds from its capital budget to bridge a deficit between the cost of replacing the planned purchase of seven new police cruisers with seven Ford hybrid police vehicles instead.
"The cost of the cruisers increased from when we originally put in our request, and equipment we anticipated to be transferable is unable to be reused and must be replaced due to Ford redesigning the police vehicles," newly-appointed Police Chief David Jones explained to the selectmen Tuesday night during a remote meeting.
The board agreed to the repurposing of $13,131 from the HPD's fiscal 2021 capital budget to bridge the gap and $24,500 to cover the difference between the cost of seven new traditional police cruisers and the hybrid police vehicles upgrade.
"The hybrid vehicles have a potential annual savings of $4,381 in fuel costs and can eliminate up to 36,880 pounds of CO2 yearly per vehicle," Jones noted. Those figures are based on 40,000 miles per year per vehicle.
The hybrid model is built for police work, according to Jones. "They will outperform the cruisers we currently have. The hybrid cruisers are also all-wheel drive, so there will be no change in performance."
Selectman William Ramsey applauded this action. "It's good to be more environmentally-conscious while at the same time meeting the department's needs," he said.
Meanwhile, Hingham Municipal Lighting Plant is pursuing a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection's MassEVIP Public Access Charging Grant to install public electric vehicle charging stations on town property.
One location would be at the Station Street parking lot in downtown Hingham. The other location is yet to be determined by the selectmen and HMLP.
If the grant is awarded to HMLP, installation would be subject to a final license agreement by the selectmen and receipt of any necessary town permits.
The stations would be installed and maintained by HMLP at no cost to the town using revenues from charging station fees.
HMLP expects to hear back about the grant by the end of March or April.
On another related note, Town Meeting 2021 will consider two warrant articles related to allocating funds to develop a climate action planning study and creating an 11-member climate action planning committee to oversee the planning process.
Such a plan would evaluate a wide range of carbon emission reduction strategies and propose measures to achieve a zero sum of these emissions produced and taken out of the atmosphere ("net zero") by 2040 or another target deemed feasible within the borders of Hingham.
This would be a townwide effort targeting the municipal, residential, and business sectors.