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Port Orchard Going Green, Going it Alone

One of Port Orchard Mayor Lary’s Coppola’s goals for 2010 (see below) is a push to make the city more green. That’s green as in environmentally friendly, not as in planting more trees.

Coppola, in his video newsletter for February, echoed the thoughts all other local government leaders when he said, “In this day and age, it makes absolutely no sense from any standpoint for the city not to be green.”

Among Port Orchard’s green initiatives is a plan to do energy audits on all facilities, a practical but hardly novel idea.

Four other local governments — the cities of Bremerton, Poulsbo, Bainbridge Island and the Port of Bremerton — are taking advantage of federal stimulus money and a Puget Sound Energy program to reduce energy usage over three years.

The three cities (minus PO) and the port will hire a single employee for three years to study how each jurisdiction can save on energy costs. The program is projected to save 2 percent on energy usage during the first year and 5 percent during each of the next two. Total savings for the four agencies is expected to be around $278,000 in year three.

The Bremerton and Poulsbo city councils approved the agreement Wednesday. The Bainbridge Island City Council and the Port of Bremerton commissioners will consider the issue this week.

Port Orchard was invited to participate, but members of the City Council’s finance committee declined. The chief concern among finance committee members, Coppola told Kitsap Sun reporter Steve Gardner, was that the city would be on the hook to pay a permanent salary beyond the three-year program.

That’s characteristic of Port Orchard. City officials’ penchant for fiscal conservatism remains intact since the departure of long-time Treasurer Kris Tompkins, replaced on retirement by former assistant state treasurer Allan Martin.

Coppola, in the video, takes full advantage of comparing his city’s relatively sound finances (no lay-offs or furloughs to date) to those of Bremerton and Kitsap County.

Coppola, in his video address, said the city will be looking into other sources of PSE funding and stimulus grants for help implementing energy savings identified through internal audits.

Among Port Orchard’s other proposed green initiatives:

Reduce Paper Use
The city in its most recent utility bill mailing announced that customers can sign up for automatic withdrawal from checking or savings. For customers, it’s a matter of convenience, but it’s also a step on the city’s part toward conducting more business online. So far 51 utility customers have signed up. Coppola says if more people pay bills online, the city will save in postage, materials and ultimately staff time. The city treasurer’s office is also working to implement a separate program, in response to citizens’ requests, that will allow use of credit or debit cards for utility bill payment.

Coppola is also pushing for a move to online information packets for city council meetings. Each council member receives a packet for each of 38 meetings each year; that amounts to five reams, or 2,500 pages, of paper per meeting. Total paper used per year: 180 reams. It all adds up, said Coppola, who has suggested that computer terminals be placed at each council member’s seat so they could access materials online during meetings as well as from home.

My thoughts: Presumably paper copies of meeting packets and minutes would still be available on request to any member of the public who lacks computer access.

Hybrid Cars
The Port Orchard Police Chief has a hybrid. Coppola said that, as other vehicles come up for replacement, the city will look into getting hybrids.

Solar Power
The city, according to Coppola, will explore using solar power at pump stations and other “remote” facilities. Although “not a total solution,” it’s worth looking into , he said.

See below for a list of Mayor Lary Coppola’s goals for the city of Port Orchard in 2010 Continue reading