Board rejects grant for charging station

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NAUGATUCK — For the second time in as many votes, the Board of Mayor and Burgesses rejected applying for a grant for an electrical vehicle charging station.

The grant program, which is overseen by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, covers the cost of the station and up to $10,000 for its installation.

The borough received a $9,964 grant in September to install the charging station. However, in October, the board voted against accepting the grant due to concerns that the borough is required to cover the cost of the electricity at the station for the first three years.

The state is offering a second round of funding for the grant, and Mayor Robert Mezzo brought it before the board again last week. Mezzo said he believed it’s something that would be good for the borough.

“I’m bringing it forward to you again because I passionately believe it is something that would benefit us. I think the fraction of cost associated with operating it is minimal compared not only to the environmental benefits, the economic development benefits, but also the message it would send to a community that cares about the environment,” Mezzo said.

The board rejected applying for the grant, 7-2, with Mezzo and Burgess Bob Neth supporting the motion.

The fact that the borough would be liable for the electricity costs was something the board could not stand behind.

“I think the concept behind it is good. I just have an issue with not charging people to charge their vehicles,” Burgess Alex Olbrys said.

Burgess Rocky Vitale voiced his concerns that the borough was making energy free to certain people.

“I feel the same way I felt about this the last time. We’re going to be responsible for this for three years and we’re going to give away electricity. If that’s the case I’d be glad to report my mileage to the borough if you can subsidize me at 15 cents a mile. I mean, it’s basically the same thing. We’re giving away energy to somebody. I just don’t understand it,” Vitale said.

Burgess Patrick Scully said he was not in favor of the charging station because residents were already concerned about the municipal budget and he didn’t want to add the electric charges onto it.

“We’re tight on money in this town,” Scully said.