By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
A recent discussion on whether to sign a pack on its comment to reduce greenhouse emissions has lead officials of the City of Wyoming to the discovery that the city does quite a lot in helping to reduce its carbon footprint and promote sustainability.
“It is part of our DNA,” said Mayor Jack Poll at a recent council meeting on June 19. “We are very conscious of everything we do in the City of Wyoming that we are as green as possible and save funds in different areas as best as possible.”
One of the items the city does not have is an inventory of all its efforts, which staff and officials are currently working to put together.
Many municipalities — locally and across the nation — have been having the discussion on greenhouse gases and carbon footprint on the environment as an outcome of President Donald Trump’s recent decision to pull the United States out of The Paris Agreement or Paris Climate Accord. This is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020.
A reaction to this decision has been local residents asking their city and state representatives what those governments are doing to reduce emissions. Poll said several individuals have reached out to the City of Wyoming, asking where the city stands on this issue and have suggested agreements or packs the city could sign.
“There are agreements out there now that they are asking the City of Wyoming to sign on to and some of those agreements if you go in and sign on, the City of Wyoming could be held financially responsible for not doing some things,” Poll said, adding city officials did not want to lock the city into something that it would not have a lot of control over.
However, by looking over such agreements as the Compact of Mayors, which was established in 2014 a year before the Paris Climate Accord was signed, city leaders found that within many of its own projects and various ones in the city, the city has been environmentally aware.
“The City of Wyoming has a long history of being environmentally conscious and it starts with things like our bio-solids land application program, our yard waste program that we have for disposal of yard waste and reuse of yard waste rather than disposing of it,” said City Manager Curtis Holt during the June 19 council meeting. “We recently have done things related to LED traffic lights. As many of you know we do a four-day week in the city of Wyoming and part of that was to close our buildings for one day a week and we have estimated in the past that has been a savings of roughly $50,000 a year in energy costs for the city.”
The city also has a formal sustainability policy that was developed a couple of years ago that the council takes into consideration on every resolution it adopts, using it as guidance related to the economic, social and environmental impacts of that particular issue that they are dealing with, Holt said. City officials also have seen a lot of LEED certification of buildings within the City of Wyoming.
“I am really very proud to live in a city that we do a lot of those things without out a formal agreement in place telling us to,” said Second Ward Council Member Marissa Postler. Postler said she would proposed the city make a compact with itself to keep track of what the city is doing, which is what she liked most about the Compact of Mayors was keeping track and being accountable.
The Compact of Mayors has four components to it, a city would have to register its commitment; take inventory on its current impact on climate change; create a reduction, targets and establish a system of measures; and establish an action plan within the city planning for how the city will make a commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions and adapt to climate change.
Holt said he believes the City of Wyoming would do very well achieving the goals of something like the Compact of Mayors, however; there would be some costs involved in doing so.
None of the council members were in full support of spending dollars and some raised concerns about spending too much staff time on building the report, however; Poll said he believed it would not take that much time and would mostly those involve those who are handling various projects to put together an inventory of what the city is currently working on and what it has accomplished.
The Wyoming City Council July 3 meeting has been cancelled and the next city council meeting is July 17 at 7 p.m. at Southlawn Park, 4125 Jefferson Ave. SE.