SILOAM SPRINGS — City directors unanimously approved a $12,000 budget amendment Feb. 16 for an electronic vehicle charging station at the Siloam Springs Public Library.
It is possible the charging station could be 90 percent paid for by a state rebate program but there is no guarantee, according to City Administrator Phillip Patterson. The charging station will be a level two, or slow charging station, set up in the western parking lot across from the library on the northeastern corner of the lot, he said.
The rebate program is one of two programs the state developed for electronic vehicle chargers, Patterson said. The second program is for a grant for a fast charging station, which has not been opened yet, he said.
Patterson stressed there was no guarantee the city would get the rebate because it is first-come, first-served. In a staff report prepared by Patterson on Feb. 8, he said the budget amendment will increase the capital budget by $12,000 and deduct the same amount from the general fund balance.
“So the idea from the $12,000 was to keep it within a reasonable amount,” Patterson said. “If we spent $12,000 and got $9,500 back from the state you’re out about $2,500.”
Patterson said if the city successfully obtains the rebate, it will be deposited into the city’s general fund reserves. As of 2019, there were 18,777 hybrid vehicles and 804 all-electric vehicles registered in the state of Arkansas, the staff report states.
Several city board members offered opinions about the electronic vehicle charger. Director Mindy Hunt said she received emails from several residents. One was in favor of the charger but not it’s location at the library. The resident said they felt it would be better to place it at the police station because it was on U.S. Highway 412, Hunt said.
Another resident contacted Hunt with comments, which the director turned into questions.
“Her concern is that sometimes free doesn’t always mean free and that the sight’s going to have to be maintained,” Hunt said.
She asked how much maintenance is expected; how the charger will benefit the residents of Siloam Springs; how many parking spaces the library has; will the electric vehicle station be used by local residents or travelers; and whether the casino already has an electric vehicle charging station.
Patterson said for $12,000, the city is also purchasing a three-year maintenance agreement and a three-year software agreement for the charger’s cellular package that will cover all of the maintenance. At the end of the three years, the city could extend the maintenance and software agreements for a couple of thousand dollars, he said.
Patterson said he didn’t know exactly how many parking spaces the library has, but said the parking lot is never at capacity. Community members and travelers with pure electric vehicles would have the opportunity to use the station, Patterson said.
After checking with an employee at the casino, Patterson said there was not a charging station at the casino.
Directors Lesa Rissler and Brad Burns commented that travelers could walk through downtown and visit restaurants and shops while their vehicles charged at the library.
Initially Director David Allen opposed the electric vehicle charger, until comments by Burns and Rissler helped Allen see the benefits it would bring to downtown.
“I have gone back and forth obviously, but I think it’s a good idea,” Allen said.
Marc Hayot may be reached by email at [email protected] .