City receives $180K VW trust grant to help with trash trucks purchase

The city of Seymour is getting some financial assistance to purchase two new automated trash trucks.

Last week, the Indiana Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund committee awarded the Seymour Department of Public Works a total of $180,000 to help with the cost of the vehicles, which is estimated to be $720,000.

The grant represents basically 25% of the total cost, said DPW Director Bill Everhart. The city will have to come up with the rest of the money, or around $540,000.

"Right now, the mayor and I are exploring the options of how we can do that, whether it’s through landfill money or as part of a bond issue, where it would be combined with other expenses of the city," he said.

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The trucks are costly, but they are absolutely needed, Everhart added.

He expects the grant money to be available by the end of September, which means the city may be able to get trucks still this year.

"I know one company that we use to purchase those trucks has a couple of trucks ready for sale," he said. "If we had to order trucks, they would have to be built, and it would be at least a year."

The city spent around $90,000 at the end of 2018 as an emergency measure to replace the trucks’ engines just to get them back on the streets, he said.

"It was cheaper than buying a brand-new truck, but the problem is everything else on the trucks is flat-out breaking down," he said.

Due to their age and daily wear and tear, the trucks aren’t going to last much longer, he added.

"It’s on a day-to-day basis of what’s going to break down on them next," he said. "They spend as much time in the shop as they do on the street."

Everhart said the trucks are past their expected lifespan of five to seven years.

"They’re both 10 years old," he said.

This was the first round of funding from the trust, which is a result of a settlement between the U.S. Justice Department and Volkswagen Corp. for its violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

Everhart said the city cannot apply for additional funding from the trust for the trash trucks but has the opportunity to receive money for other vehicles.

"It would have to be other vehicles in the fleet that need to be replaced," he said.

Indiana will receive approximately $41 million under the terms of the consent decree where Volkswagen admitted to the installation and use of emission testing devices in diesel vehicles sold and operated in the United States from 2009 through 2016.

The first round of funding totaled more than $9.8 million with 179 vehicles or equipment in 23 Hoosier counties receiving money to help reduce diesel emissions across the state.

Projects include school buses and on-road and non-road vehicles.

“The committee’s first round of funding is a big step toward reducing diesel emissions in Indiana,” said Indiana Department of Environmental Management commissioner and committee member Bruno Pigott. “These awards are going to improve the air quality for Hoosiers across the state.”