City of Merritt looking to allocate budget money for electric vehicle

·2 min read

At the Committee of the Whole budget meeting on Jan. 29, staff put forth a request in the proposed budget for an electric vehicle (EV).

Currently, the City has one vehicle which must be shared amongst staff, including both development and recreation department employees. The constraints of scheduling use for one vehicle by multiple departments has become increasingly difficult as multiple employees are needed in more than one place at a time.

“We have one vehicle for City Hall to share, and of course the development services department uses the vehicle daily, by our building official generally but also for other meetings,” explained Planning and Development Services Manager, Don McArthur.

“In order to continue to provide excellent customer service once we have a new full-time building official on staff, we’ll need a vehicle dedicated to that.”

Recreation and Facilities Manager Sky McKeown echoed these concerns, noting that even as the meeting took place, the City vehicle was not available as an assistant supervisor had taken it to the Lower Mainland for a weekend training session.

“We head to the Okanagan a fair amount, and we use that vehicle as well so it’s not always accessible and then they (the Development Services Department) therefore have to juggle what gets inspected what day and what doesn’t,” said McKeown.

The budget request for the purchase of the vehicle was $42,000, with McArthur taking the lead on research into the appropriate vehicle and what the total cost of that vehicle would be. The request for this EV was not on last year’s budget, but was requested previously in 2019.

“We have asked for it in the past… we really do need it,” said McArthur.

Councillor Mike Bhangu questioned whether purchasing a used vehicle or negotiating with a dealership to bring the cost down would be effective. However, Director of Finance and IT said that going the pre-owned vehicle route likely wouldn’t work out for the City.

“On this type of a purchase we would be looking at a new vehicle, in order to get MFA short term financing for it, if we want to go through financing,” said Anderson.

“If we want to do an outright purchase, we could look at the used market as well, but you’d lose warranties and those sort of things by buying used as well.”

Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald