HAVERHILL — While the annual debate over residential and commercial tax rates originally scheduled for Tuesday night has been postponed to Nov. 28, another seemingly annual discussion is still on the City Council's agenda.
The city has been discussing the prospect of buying the rest of its streetlights from National Grid for several years, and Mayor James Fiorentini will be bringing Public Works Director Michael Stankovich and Patrick Roche of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council before the council to talk about the future of the streetlights.
Fiorentini said Monday he is planning to recommend that the council purchase more than 4,000 of the remaining streetlights in the city from National Grid, with the exception of 500 to 1,000 lights which get their power from underground circuitry.
The city has already purchased most of the lights in the downtown.
"The below-ground ones are expensive to fix, so we would rather leave them with National Grid," said Fiorentini, who assembled a small internal committee to evaluate the prospect of purchasing the lights. "The committee spent a lot of time looking into this and I think this will be a great savings for the taxpayers."
The committee includes Director of Inspectional Services Richard MacDonald and Electrical Inspector Robert Pigeon.
Once the city has purchased the lights — city officials have estimated they could cost between $526,000 two years ago and $350,000 last month — the city will convert the current bulbs into more efficient light emitting diodes, or LED bulbs.
Orlando Pacheco, the city's former purchasing director and energy guru, said at an early October council meeting that retrofitting the bulbs could cost more than $1 million.
This is where the Metropolitan Area Planning Council comes into play. Fiorentini said they will help the city obtain a grant to convert the lights over to LED bulbs, as well as help the city pick an LED provider.
Last month, Pacheco said the purchase of the lights could save $250,000 in the first year, and that the conversion to LED bulbs would pay for itself in three or four years.
When asked when the city could make the final purchase, Fiorentini said the council has already approved the purchase in the city budget and that the city could buy the lights from National Grid "very quickly."
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