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Cleveland Heights gets good deal on mini-fleet of electric cars for new inspectors

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — New city inspectors will be greeted with a small fleet of new electric cars to make their rounds.

City Council signed off Monday (Jan. 23) on the purchase of six 2023 Chevy Bolt EVs for $180,000 — enough of a price break to allow for an extra car to be added to earlier funding projections.

“We’ve been working to try to find a good deal on EVs for the Planning and Development Department, which now includes housing and zoning inspection, those sorts of activities that require being out in the community,” Mayor Kahlil Seren told council in a special meeting.

“And one of our goals has been to transition our fleet from internal combustion engines.”

The offer from VanDevere Chevrolet calls for six new Bolts at $29,000 apiece, well under the asking price through the state cooperative purchasing program, which was closer to $35,000 per vehicle.

And because of the local savings that allow for an extra car where only five had been budgeted, a formal bidding process will not be required, city officials said.

The sixth car will “will make it more efficient and effective in rotation,” although Seren is still looking for a total of eight EVs in the expanded City Planning Department.

“We do have a more urgent need for additional equipment now, so we can ramp up in inspectional services and start bringing back in-house” some of the services that have been outsourced in recent years, Seren said.

“But in the future, we hope to become more incremental in our capital upgrades.”

Chargers — starting with at least two — could cost a separate $100,000, based on earlier estimates, Seren said in answer to a question from Councilwoman Gail Larson.

“These will be ‘pool’ vehicles for planning and development for anyone who needs to go out onsite in any of the divisions,” such as community development, economic development, planning or inspectional services, Seren said.

The acquisition also lines up with the goals for Cleveland Heights having joined the “Power a Clean Future Ohio” coalition in 2021 to reduce its carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions another 30 percent by the end of the decade. This is known as the “Ohio 30-by-30 pledge.”

Councilwoman Davida Russell asked how many new employees the city plans to hire as it brings inspection back in-house.

“Upon getting to full staff, we will have up to six housing inspectors, a zoning inspector and, additionally, a chief inspector, a property investigator” and the building commissioner, Seren said, with some existing cars in the fleet also being used in the rotation.

Councilman Tony Cuda asked if employees using their own vehicles had been considered as an option. Seren said yes, but use of personal vehicles was not a “preferred option,” given wear and tear, breakdowns and insurance concerns.

Responding to a question from Councilwoman Melody Joy Hart, Seren said the Cleveland Heights city logo will be put on all of the new cars, so that residents and property owners can identify them.

Read more from the Sun Press.


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