NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Monday night, the Town of Normal doubled down its commitment toward renewable energy and its presence as an EV-friendly town.
By a 4-3 vote, the council voted to waive a formal bidding process and purchase two new vehicles for town use. Those vehicles were a Rivian R1T pickup and a Rivian R1S SUV.
An over half hour of discussion ensued after a few council members raised concerns about the price it would cost. According to town staff, $149,000 is budgeted for the purchase, however, council members including Stan Nord and Kathleen Lorenz weren’t pleased it was not listed within the council packet.
City manager Pam Reece said the town has already put down a refundable $2,000 down ($1,000 per vehicle) as part of a pre-order.
Supporters of the purchase argued it’s an act of goodwill toward a company that has invested so much into the Town. Kevin McCarthy pointed toward the over 6,000 jobs and over $2 million in building permit fees for the Town.
However, not everyone was ok with using taxpayer dollars to purchase the vehicles. Scott Preston voted no, due to it coming from taxpayer-funded funds instead of being used from the aforementioned $2 million in fee revenue the town collected.
“When they bought the plant, they have since doubled it and that’s generated about $2 million in development fees for the town as a result of that. If we could’ve directly used some of those dollars that weren’t tax dollars I would’ve been in support,” Preston said.
McCarthy said in his opinion it didn’t matter how the Town was paying for the vehicles. He said he was “happy” to vote yes.
“Your checkbook has $3 million more in it than it would’ve before, and so writing a $150,000 out of your $3 million richer checkbook is what we’re saying. No, I don’t have a problem if we can’t say that exact dollar came from Rivian, I’m ok with that, our checkbook is richer because of them,” McCarthy said.
Town staff believes the vehicles will have fewer maintainance costs associated with them; citing current electric vehicles in the town’s fleet made by Mitsubishi only needing new tires and a new windshield.
Most of those cars are at least 10 years old.
The Rivian R1T and R1S will be available for staff in all departments to check out and use. Specifically for out-of-town conferences.