Sparks fly at Canton City Council but members made right call buying an electric vehicle

We are only three months into 2024, but Canton City Councilman Frank Morris III just might have pulled off the local quote of the year.

With council agreeing to buy the city's first electric vehicle and specifically touting the environmental and financial benefits of having an EV, Morris, who objected to the purchase, noted: "A bicycle would really be green. It would definitely lower our carbon footprint and would save us approximately $99,500."

He deserves applause for the comedic line.

Council did approve, by an 8-4 vote last week, buying a Ford F-150 Lightning or something similar 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 city also is investing about $20,000 in tools to maintain the vehicle.

It is a big financial investment.

We support council's decision while also recognizing the concerns raised. There are legitimate questions over the cost, whether the tires wear out faster, the water-heavy and emissions-producing process of creating the batteries, and how the batteries are disposed.

But we also (facetiously) wonder whether the same concerns were raised way back when the city opted to move from a fleet of horses to a fleet of motorized vehicles. What about the cost? Will tires wear out faster than horseshoes? What about the pollution created? How will metal vehicles be disposed of?

And it's not like Canton is serving as a guinea pig for EVs. As staff writer Kelli Weir reported, at least 10 other Ohio cities, including Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Dayton, have purchased electric vehicles for their fleets.

Anyone who owns an EV can share stories — and probably does quite frequently — about lower maintenance and gasoline costs. Those savings add up fast. (The vehicle the city is replacing gets 9.8 miles per gallon. Oof.)

Maybe the entire city fleet will be EVs in five or 10 years. Or maybe city vehicles will be powered by hydrogen or natural gas. Stark Area Regional Transit Authority Executive Director Kirt Conrad will be happy to talk with anybody about the benefits of hydrogen vehicles and perhaps the city should explore that option, considering there's a national expert here.

Ultimately, we agree with Councilman Louis Giavasis and others who approved the purchase.

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

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Canton City Council made the right call buying an electric vehicle