Marple Township Commissioner John Butler (D-2) accused Board President Daniel Leefson (R-7) of changing his stance to defeat, by a vote of 4-3, the resolution for Marple to purchase 20 percent of its energy from alternative sources by 2010.
“Dan, you gave me your word that you were gonna vote for it,” Butler said during a spirited debate at Monday night’s town board meeting Oct. 9.
“I did not give you my word. I said I would consider it if I saw hard facts,” Leefson replied.
Leefson said he personally buys alternative energy but that most people in the community aren’t in favor of it. “I’m telling you, people are more concerned about their taxes,” Leefson said.
The projected cost for using alternative energy for 20 percent of its energy would cause an increase of $1,200 to their current budget, according to Ed O’Lone, Marple’s finance director, who was not present at Monday’s meeting.
In exchange for making the promise and for encouraging at least 200 businesses or households to become new alternative energy consumers, Marple would receive a 1 kWh solar panel valued at $10,000 from SmartPower, a non-profit marketing company that promotes clean energy sources, such as wind, solar or methane. A few weeks ago, Lower Makefield Township in Bucks County became the first community in Pennsylvania to make the pledge to SmartPower’s Clean Energy Communities Campaign.
In Marple, the same resolution was defeated by an identical 4-3 vote at last month’s board meeting, with Commissioners John Longacre (R-5) and Charles Sammartino (D-6) joining Butler. Many commissioners echoed their arguments from last month.
“My personal decisions are my personal decisions. And I believe that maybe we have a responsibility to make it known to people,” but it’s an individual’s choice, not the township’s, according to Board Vice President John Lucas (R-4).
Despite O’Lone’s projections opponents like Commissioners William Muehsam (R-1) and Jeannine Conner (R-3) said the numbers weren’t clear enough.
“I guess John, I’ve become gun shy as far as a lot of your propositions go over the years,” Conner said to Butler. “It seems like there’s always that bottom line where we approve something and then afterwards we find out it’s gonna cost us money or more money or whatever.”
Butler asked for examples, but Conner did not provide any.
Sammartino said the board’s “duty” to pass this resolution was more important than the financial cost.
“We spent $180,000, approximately, on a two space study for our new township building. We did that with no problem whatsoever. We can find the money here to pass this. And let’s forget the politics. Let’s forget all this nonsense of who likes who and who doesn’t like who. And I know that’s there.” Sammartino said. “But the bottom line is let’s keep foremost the dependency on foreign oil and what we can do to help stem that. So my vote is yes for it. I’ll keep voting yes for it if it keeps coming back on the table.”
By Ed Mahon, Correspondent
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