Everywhere you turn, someone's exhorting you to "go green": build and maintain infrastructure that consumes as little of the planet's finite resources—water, energy, oxygen—as possible.
We at PUBLIC WORKS are not immune to this latest environmental craze.
Among other criteria, our Department of the Year awards application asks candidates to list the number of alternative-fuel or hybrid vehicles in their fleets. While there are usually a couple, there aren't many more—unless the applicant's from California, where compressed natural gas-powered buses and other alternatively fueled vehicles have made the greatest inroads.
See? we PUBLIC WORKS editors say to each other, our chests filling with pride, Our readers are just as committed to lowering air pollution as anyone else.
The wonder, of course, is that public fleets include any hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles. The tax credits the IRS offers to offset the higher-priced environmentally friendly vehicles isn't available to tax-exempt organizations like city government.
I didn't realize the significance of this aspect of the tax code until the IRS recently announced that it's offering buyers of alternatively fueled "large" trucks and buses credits of up to $32,000, and buyers of large hybrids up to $12,000. (Click here for a list of qualified vehicles.)
But after talking with Chris Amos, commissioner of equipment services for St. Louis and incoming president of the National Association of Fleet Administrators (http://www.nafa.org/ ), I got the picture.
Like the credits that are available for SUVs and light trucks, you'll have to crunch the numbers to decide if makes more sense to buy the vehicle off the state contract, ask your dealer to deduct some or all of the credit off the sticker price (that's how Chris bought two hybrid Ford Escapes), or just fuggedaboudit.
As for the IRS extending the credits to government agencies? Ain't gonna happen. NAFA and other organizations have repeatedly petitioned Washington for some relief, but it's just too much trouble to rewrite the code.
So we applaud those of you who have found a way to go green with your fleets. How'd you do it? Let me know at email@example.com.
Editor in Chief