By Kermit Hovey
The City of Middleton recognizes climate change as a real and serious problem and is committed to addressing the crisis. The Middleton Community Working Group (CWG) of 350 Madison’s Community Climate Solutions Team works with staff and elected officials to help ensure that the city’s commitment translates into concrete action.
Middleton CWG members’ ongoing efforts have clearly paid off. These include offering public comments at multiple city meetings, engaging in conversations with alders, and providing technically detailed information to city staff. For example, at the October 5 Middleton Common Council meeting, public comments were offered by Bob Owen, Kevin Spitler, and Kermit Hovey. All highlighted the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to keep climate-related expenditures in next year’s budget. Bob additionally provided very specific fleet and maintenance equipment electrification recommendations.
Subsequently, the Sustainability Coordinator staff report to the Middleton Sustainability Committee’s October monthly meeting shared good budget news. Climate mitigation and sustainability items in the 2022 budget include:
- LED upgrades and solar on the Golf Clubhouse rooftop
- energy reporting software with dashboard
- ARPA federal stimulus funds covering ground mount and rooftop solar at two water utility pumping stations
- funds to work on energy efficiency and rooftop solar in Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing in Middleton with multiple community partners.
That report also noted that city staff had met in early October to discuss fleet transition plans to clean energy. These plans currently include purchasing one hybrid patrol interceptor squad car, a hybrid detective car, and an electric gator in the current budget cycle. A new 5-year fleet transition plan will schedule cars, trucks, utility and larger vehicles for upgrade to EV/CNG/RNG, with vision of a complete transition within 7-8 years. This will include charging infrastructure plans at city buildings and the fleet garage.
While things look very positive for these budget items to be included in the final 2022 budget, the process is not over. The budget will go to public hearing on Wednesday November 3 at 6:00PM. This is the last chance for residents to speak in support of or against budget items. Adjustments can then be made by Common Council, with approval for the finalized 2022 budget scheduled for Tuesday, November 16, at Common Council. (To make public comments, check Middleton’s website for meeting details at http://meetings.cityofmiddleton.us/ to confirm meeting details and zoom links.)