Stafford Adopts Electrical Vehicle Charging Grant Program

Local Volunteer Honored for Work With Wreaths Across America
By Monique M. Demopoulos | Dec 26, 2019

Stafford Township — The Stafford Township Council signed on to “It Pays to Plug In: New Jersey’s Electrical Vehicle Charging Grant Program” at its regular meeting Dec. 17.

“This is a grant that came from the DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) to install two electrical vehicle charging stations,” Mayor Greg Myhre explained. One station will be installed in the town hall parking lot, the other at the Bay Avenue Community Center.

Myhre explained the pilot program would give officials three years to decide if the charging stations are worth pursuing further. According to Myhre, the township would only be responsible for paying installation, “which the town electrician, employed by public works, would do,” as well as associated costs, such as wiring.

The township would also be responsible for the electrical cost, although Myhre said the township would charge for the service. “There are already about 300 towns throughout the state doing this,” Myhre said. “We thought Bay Avenue might be a good place to do this.” He described a potential tourism benefit, explaining, “people typically need to charge for about a half hour … so this would be a good time to stroll up and down and see what Bay Avenue is all about.”

Councilman Paul Krier objected on principle, explaining the grant comes from a “societal benefit tax,” which he believes to be a regressive tax. “I have no particular issue with (electrical vehicles). I envision that, at some point, the township will eventually have this as part of its equipment. Right now, we don’t have one. It’s important for us to remember that although this is a grant, that grant money comes from tax receipts that they collect, in part, from all our utility bills. I object to this in principle because this is a benefit for very few that is paid for by virtue of this tax that is levied on all of our residents.

“No sooner would I expect Stafford to get into the vehicle fueling business than I would expect them to sell lemonade or pizza. It’s just not appropriate,” he asserted. Krier explained he would be in support of charging stations if and when a plan is proposed to introduce electric vehicles in Stafford, in which case it would provide a direct benefit to the residents of Stafford Township.

“Grants are not something that we just apply for and take because they’re there,” Myhre countered. “I think there is a potential benefit here, and there could very well be an EV in the Stafford fleet in the near future. There isn’t one right now, but like other things, we do plan for the future.”

Among other ordinances adopted was an amendment to the code titled “Peddling and Soliciting” that will establish a “no solicitation” registry for interested residents. Residents on that registry will receive a window cling to convey they are not interested in commercial soliciting.

After public comment from former Girl Scout troop leader Kate Krier, it was clarified that charitable organizations are exempt, but anyone may request the “no solicitation list” from town hall. The council agreed to discuss making an online copy of the list so charitable organizations can avoid unnecessary confrontation during fundraising.

Myhre also presented a proclamation recognizing Betty Garrison for her work with Wreaths Across America, honoring deceased veterans interred in Stafford Township. Myhre explained 2019 was the first year Stafford participated in Wreaths Across America.

According to Garrison, on Dec. 14, 2.2 million wreaths were laid on graves across the U.S. “Garrison, through her own initiative, solicited donations, organized volunteers, committed resources and built community support to lay wreaths upon the graves of local veterans. The mission is to remember the fallen, to honor those who serve their families, and teach the next generation about the value of freedom.” Garrison was presented with a “key to the township” for her volunteer service.

A teary-eyed Garrison said her experience with Wreaths Across America has been both “heartwarming and humbling.” She said she was able to work with five of the seven cemeteries she chose in Stafford and was surprised to find many of the graves date back to the Civil and Revolutionary wars, and none of them had wreaths laid upon them. She thanked volunteers, sponsors and Boy Scout troops for their help, adding she already has ideas for next year’s fundraising.

Councilman Anthony Guariglia announced Stafford EMS answered its 3,000th call of 2019 on Dec. 17. He recognized Stafford EMS as having saved $1.2 million for Stafford residents (just in terms of ambulance transportation) this year. “They did an excellent job, saved a lot of lives, did a lot of good.”

Monique M. Demopoulos

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