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August  11

It's Always Open Season on SUV's (and the Montclair Town Council)

yukon_4wd_2Not only did SUV's take a lashing at last night's Montclair Town Council meeting (during a public discussion of new vehicles the town is buying), but it turns out the things are *gasp* dangerous -- and not just to other drivers. New federal tests found that one-third of 2004 model SUV's have a tendency to roll over.

Gloria Clark of 13 Amelia Street berated the township for buying $30,000 SUV's when it could buy other cars cheaper. "I see no reason to have these big SUV's," she said. Later, she told the Barista, "They're nothing but gas guzzlers. Every time, you look [in one of the town parking lots], there's a new SUV."

Mayor Remsen assured her that none of the vehicles in that particular appropriation were SUV's; they were discussing snow plows at the time. But there was a resolution, a little later in the meeting, to buy a GMC 4WD Yukon XL. That car carries a sticker price of $42,000. Mayor Remsen could not be reached for comment.

In addition to Clark, the Town Council last night faced a bunch of people from NJ Citizen Action, all wearing tennis-ball yellow stickers bearing their organization's name, asking the town to stop banking at Hudson United Bank, because it makes very few loans in the township.

And the council heard stern talk on the revaluation issue. The Star-Ledger last month claiming that many black neighborhoods in north Jersey are paying proportionately higher property taxes.

George Ryder, representing the Infield Ave. Block Association, said it is looking into putting its property taxes into an escrow account until the issue is resolved and chided the council for worrying about political considerations. Later, he told Barista that block associations throughout the South End are planning to organize on the issue.

Mayor Remsen assured Ryder that the council is making the tax issue a "top priority." The revaluation process, he added, will probably cost the town about $1 million.

August 11, 2004 in SUV-bashing | Permalink



Whatever. While I can sympathize with township residents being upset at the large sums of money being spent on township vehicles, I think the whole SUV thing needs to be revoked. People can protest their beliefs about gas guzzling, whatever, that's all fine and good - but SUVs are the least of the area's problems, frankly.

I'm going to start protesting small, stupid looking bubble cars. I hate them. I don't like trying to fit things into them, and they are, ultimately, impractical - unless you like ensuring your death when getting into a car accident.

Posted by: Tom | Aug 11, 2004 1:14:24 PM

1. Every car regardless of the model has dangers inherent to its design. The dangers of an SUV are just different from the dangers of a Kia Rio.

2. Municipalities don't pay sticker price - they have buying power due to the high-volume purchasing group that they are part of.

3. Municipal use of an SUV is one of the few situations where it is entirely appropriate and fitting. Imagine what Gloria Clark would have to say if the town health inspector could not navigate Amelia Street in his inexpensive fuel-sparing minicar due to a deep snowfall and #13 was invaded by raccoons (for example).

Posted by: Suzette | Aug 11, 2004 1:39:34 PM

Personally, I don't give a rat's behind what anyone else drives but why should a public servant have a nicer car than mine?

Posted by: Miss Martta | Aug 11, 2004 2:43:16 PM

We had a similar comment at last night's council meeting here. The answer was: yes, we buy SUVs but when they reach a certain point they get handed down to another department (say, from Zoning to Health).

(Of course, no matter who drives them they still eat gas and cost a lot to repair.)

Part of it has to do with the fact that when you are a fleet customer you get price incentives up the wazoo to keep buying Jeeps rather than Explorers or Dodge Rams instead of Jimmies. Or any of those vs. a cheaper sedan.

Posted by: The Prop | Aug 11, 2004 3:16:56 PM

Has anyone considered that the reason for buying SUV's may have to do with where the money to buy them is coming from? Isn't the town borrowing money for the SUV's and, perhaps, the borrowing conditions require that the vehicles NOT be a car? Are the SUV's being bought with bonds vs. money from general funds? From an income tax viewpoint, many SUV's are considered "equipment" and their tax treatment is much more generous than cars.

Posted by: Carya | Aug 11, 2004 6:04:28 PM

Wow, the statistics really show that? And to think that big families are mostly the ones who opt for them, since they need all those extra space to shuttle a handful of people. If that is true, then I hope they choose other cars instead.

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