If you and the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (MCBOS) are under the impression that Higley School District is planning to use the $750,000 grant they requested from the MCBOS to reduce air pollution in and around the district, you have been misled. Their true purpose is to use the money, if their proposal is approved by the MCBOS, to construct and operate a CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) fueling station, so they can "make money." They intend to use this "cash gift" to compete against private industry.
Three members of the Higley School Governing Board made it very clear in their September 10, 2013 meeting that converting their air polluting buses into buses that will consume CNG and reduce air pollution is not how they plan to use the money.
The problem is: That isn’t what Higley claimed on its Grant Application to the MCBOS.
According to Maricopa County Supervisor Denny Barney (District 1):
"Last year, to remain in compliance with the Federal Clean Air Act, the Maricopa County Air Quality Department reached a financial settlement with Allied Waste Industries, the Town of Queen Creek and the Maricopa County Solid Waste Department over the operation of the now closed Queen Creek Landfill. As part of that settlement, it was agreed that $1 million would be set aside to fund clean air environmental projects in the area."
How does siphoning business away from a private CNG fueling station (Clean N Green) "fund clean air environmental projects in the area"?
Higley’s application for the MCBOS grant clearly indicates the need to purchase/convert buses. Isn’t that necessary in order to reduce air pollution? First and foremost is the fact that the district does not intend to transition their entire fleet to CNG as called for in the grant application. The application’s claims are outwardly fraudulent based on the comments made by the decision makers in the board meeting.
It seems that reducing air pollution is the whole purpose of this grant; however, the pollution reduction benefit cannot be recognized until all buses are transitioned to CNG which will not take place for approximately 10 to 20 years.
Two board members (Ms. Whitener and Ms. Anderson) even ganged up on fellow board member Jake Hoffman for so much as suggesting that the District will replace buses any faster than through "attrition." This was also emphasized by Superintendent Birdwell during the 9/10/2013 meeting.
Superintendent Birdwell was especially arrogant and denigrating toward Board member Jake Hoffman for persisting in his assertion that bus replacement was clearly stated in the grant proposal, and the District should consider those costs.
Compare for yourself the claims made in the Grant Application to statements made at the September 10 board meeting. See also the HUSD – December 2012 – CNG Presentation by HUSD Transportation Director Josh Crosby.
:08 Superintendent Birdwell crowing about the money they will make on the gas station.
1:40 Member Whitener speaking on the money they will make from the gas station.
4:30 Member Hoffman saying this is a bad plan and backing up his statements with math.
10:40 Member Anderson stating that the Grant Proposal doesn’t "lock us into buying a new fleet….making money"
12:50 Superintendent Birdwell stating it could take 10-20 years to replace buses.
16.45 Superintendent dressing down Member Hoffman, who still thinks it’s a bad plan.
See also Stop Higley Schools from Building a Taxpayer-Funded Gas Station.