City of Canton to buy its first electric vehicle

CANTON – The city of Canton is buying its first electric vehicle, roughly three years after installing public charging stations to encourage the use of EVs.

With an 8-4 vote, Canton City Council on Monday authorized buying a Ford F-150 Lightning or similar electric vehicle for the traffic engineering department. The truck is estimated to cost $72,000, and the city is applying for a $7,500 federal reimbursement.

The new EV truck will be primarily used as a supervisory vehicle for around-town driving. It will replace an 18-year-old truck that gets roughly 9.85 miles to a gallon of gasoline.

At least 10 other Ohio cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton, have purchased electric vehicles for their fleets.

Here are four things to know about Canton’s first electric vehicle:

1. Electric vehicle supporters cite lower fuel and maintenance costs, reduced emissions.

Council members who supported the purchase of the electric vehicle cited its lower carbon emissions and lower fuel and maintenance costs.

Ward 5 Councilman Robert Fisher, who chairs council’s Environmental and Public Utilities Committee and introduced the legislation to purchase the EV, said the Ford Lightning’s operational cost is estimated to be 17% lower over eight years than its gas-powered counterparts.

If the city receives the $7,500 federal reimbursement, the initial cost of the EV would be comparable to the $60,000 to $65,000 cost of a similar gas-powered vehicle, supporters added.

Council Majority Leader John Mariol II, who has owned an electric vehicle for the past year, believes the public needs to move to electric to help save the environment and government needs to take the lead.

“If we can do something that saves taxpayer money, protects the environment and leads (the change) where we’re ahead of the curve instead of behind the curve, that is a win across the board,” said Mariol, who estimated that he’s saved more than $3,000 on gas. “I think this is the biggest no-brainer.”

Councilmen Louis Giavasis and Richard Sacco believe the city should give it a try.

“I don’t look at this as an experiment,” Giavasis said. “I look at this as we’re looking toward the future. … We’re not going to know how well this is going to work until we try.”

2. EV opponents concerned about vehicle's longevity, high cost.

The four council members who opposed buying the electric vehicle – Greg Hawk, Brenda Kimbrough, Jason Scaglione and Frank Morris III – expressed concerns about the cost of the vehicle and the tools to maintain it, the longevity of EVs and whether they actually are better for the environment.

Morris said with the higher purchase price and the more than $20,000 in tools the city would need to buy to maintain its one electric vehicle, the cost is too high.

“If you wouldn’t consider spending this kind of money on a vehicle for yourself in the name of going green and you wouldn’t reach into your own pocket to spend $100,000 of your money on a vehicle, then you sure as hell shouldn’t do it with the taxpayers’ money because we are elected to represent them and to protect the financial interest of the city,” Morris said.

Hawk also questioned the purchase price and the potential costs related to replacing and disposing of the battery.

“I can’t see spending that kind of money on one vehicle to make an experiment out of it,” he said.

Scaligone cited a series of statistics that suggest EV tires wear out faster than traditional vehicles due to their heavier weight, that environmental benefits of an EV are negated by the inability to recycle most of the batteries and the water-intensive and emission-producing process to create EV batteries.

Morris quipped that if council was so insistent on being environmentally friendly, it should buy the engineering department a bicycle to drive around town.

“A bicycle would really be green,” he said. “It would definitely lower our carbon footprint and would save us approximately $99,500.”

3. Canton’s mayor supports electric vehicle purchase.

Mayor William V. Sherer II supports council’s electric vehicle purchase and said more efforts to reduce the city’s carbon footprint are coming.

“I don’t have a problem giving this a shot," he said. "I’m not saying every car that the city buys is going to be electric. But I don’t have a problem as mayor at least giving this a shot to see what happens.”

He said federal officials cited Canton's lack of a plan to reduce carbon emissions as a primary reason they didn't award the city a federal grant for its Tuscarawas Street W reconstruction project. Sherer said city officials are working on that plan now.

“We are going to make a better attempt at going green in this city,” he said.

Some of Canton’s recent efforts to reduce its environmental impact include installing four public EV charging stations in 2021, joining the Power a Clean Future Ohio coalition in 2022, and having its vehicle fleet and buildings assessed for energy improvements.

Council earlier this month approved replacing the lights at City Hall, the Southeast Community Center and the City Service Center with energy-efficient LED lighting.

The project is expected to cost $735,807 with a grant paying $500,000.  Federal funds the city received from the American Rescue Plan Act to help it recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be used for the city’s share of $235,807.

Officials with Ameresco, the company that assessed the city buildings for energy efficient improvements, estimate the new lighting will save the city about $50,000 a year in utility, operation and maintenance costs, giving the city a five-year return on investment.

4. EV repair tools are part of the city's capital projects for 2024.

Council on Monday separately approved allocating $41,000 to the city's motor vehicles department to purchase the tools it needs to repair electric vehicles as part of the city’s capital projects list for 2024. City officials estimate that it will cost $23,000 to buy a laptop with applicable EV software and an insulated tool kit that is needed to prevent city workers from being shocked while repairing an electric vehicle. Officials believe another $28,000 will be needed for other maintenance tools if Canton decides to move forward with additional electric vehicles.

This year's $14 million capital project list also includes the purchase of several vehicles such as cruisers, snow plows and sewer trucks, a roof replacement for Fire Station 1, a fire alarm system for Munson Stadium, road reconstruction and storm sewer replacement projects, a chiller and dasher replacement at the ice rink, portable radios and other safety gear for emergency responders and a boiler for the city-owned Greater Canton Amateur Sports Hall of Fame.

Council on Monday also approved its operating budget for the year. The $325 million budget is slightly lower than the temporary budget that council passed in December as officials revised their estimates with more specific information.

Reach Canton Repository writer Kelli Weir at 330-580-8339 or

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Canton Council approves purchase of city's first electric vehicle