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City gets grant for two new dump trucks

Former councilman objects, calls for review

March 07, 2012 - Clarkston's getting two new dump trucks, with the help of Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).

"Our two trucks are 15-16 years old," said Dennis Ritter, city manager for the City of the Village of Clarkston. "We applied for the grant and we received word about 10 days or so ago the grant was approved for $170,000."

The city gets $170,000 in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) grant funding to replace the Department of Public Works' two trucks.

"It takes a huge load off of everybody because you see, at $170,000, what it's going to take to replace two vehicles," Ritter said. "That's a very large amount of money, which we simply don't have to buy one ourselves."

Former Councilman Cory Johnston said he is against the program, for many reasons.

"One is that the city has known for 3-4 years that these trucks would need replacing but made no plans and allocated no funds to do so," he said. "Second is that the trucks are used very little."

Johnston wrote to SEMCOG, Michigan Federal Highway Administration, and state Rep. Eileen Kowall asking them to review the recommendation.

"This grant information does not appear to agree with publicly available records," he said. "It appears to never have been reviewed by the City Council or Planning Commission, and there was no opportunity for anyone other than part-time DPW director to comment on whether this was the best use of these grant funds."

According to the Dec. 12, 2011, DPW report to City Council, the small truck has 66,000 odometer miles and was made in 1997.

"That makes it at least 14 years old and an average of 4,714 miles per year," Johnston said. "The grant application states the annual mileage at 16,857 which for 14 years would be about 236,000 miles, not 66,000."

Johnston was also upset because the CMAQ grants can be used for "traffic flow improvements," which he believes would help everyone far more than a couple new trucks.

"They can be used for bike lanes on existing streets which I am very much in favor of and was recommended by the City Planning Commission only to be ignored by the City Council," he said.

Since major roads in the city are all cleared of snow and maintained by the county, these trucks provide service for only the few secondary roads and provide benefit to only a few local residents, he said.

CMAQ grant funding is to reduce emissions from transportation-related sources. Funding is distributed by the federal government to areas with higher concentrations of pollutants, according to SEMCOG.

The city got the grant under the "diesel replacement" category to replace current trucks with newer, less polluting diesel trucks.

The plan is to sell the old trucks and get what they can for them – no estimate yet of how much that will be, he said.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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