City to recycle old truck

By Li Terrell
At the Nov. 1 South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting, there was a decision passed to use grant money from the state of California to purchase a new hybrid vehicle for use in the citywide recycling program. 
The new Chevy Silverado hybrid is valued at $39,000, gets 20 miles to the gallon and will reduce emissions compared to the old truck currently in use. However, a lively discussion of whether the purchase would give the wrong impression regarding the city’s fiscal responsibility ensued.

“It’s a garbage truck right,” asked Councilman Tom Davis. “I just have a hard time spending $40,000 dollars on a truck to pick up garbage in this economy.”
The funding for the truck is part of a $394,000 grant from the California Department of Resources and Recovery that administers the Container Recycling & Litter Reduction Act. South Lake Tahoe was one of four California cities chosen to participate.  The statewide goal is to achieve an 80 percent recycling rate, while locally a 15 percent per capita increase in recycling is the benchmark. The grant was initially awarded in 2008, and implemented in July of 2010.
However, the point was raised by Councilman Davis that the grant was still taxpayers’ money, regardless of where it came from. He took issue with the need for a brand new truck and suggested the city look into other options, such as a used vehicle.
“This is also an advertisement for the program, and you would have them riding around in a beat up old truck,” said Councilwoman Claire Fortier.
As outlined in the staff report, a significant part of the statewide program is community outreach. The city will be partnering with both the Lake Tahoe Unified School District and the South Shore Chamber of Commerce to increase public awareness about recycling.
Though the idea of spending less money did resonate with most of the council, the grant specifically requires a vehicle of a hybrid nature, one with lower emissions. The current truck generates some 27.5 Metric Tons of CO2
annually, whereas the new model will generate only 8.9 MT of CO2 per year.
The action was carried unanimously, and the Recycle Tahoe program will have a new vehicle with a four person cab and four-wheel-drive to service its receptacles. The current used truck that gets four miles to the gallon will be retired from city service and sold at auction.

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