LIGHTS OUT: Every Third Cranston Street Light to be Shut Off
Cranston, RI – Within the next six weeks, every third streetlight in the City of Cranston will be turned off in an effort to reduce costs necessary because of a cut imposed by the Cranston City Council in the electricity line item of the 2009-1010 budget from $1.2 million to $960,000. Further, all indications are that the City will be losing over 13 million dollars in State money for motor vehicle tax reimbursement next year thus precluding the City from restoring that line item.
The City of Cranston pays for approximately 10,000 street lights per year. This cost not only includes electricity, but also a significant monthly rental fee for each light. The City also is responsible to pay for lights on State owned roads such as Route 2 (Reservoir Avenue). Currently, all of the lights on State roads within Cranston (outside of the highways) are on while the State on several major highways has made the move to reduce significantly street lighting.
“We get hit twice for every street light – once for the electrical cost and the then for the monthly rental – so simply reducing the number of hours that we leave each light on isn't enough. We must eliminate some to alleviate the rental cost,” commented the Mayor.
The process is two-fold. First, there is the “red-cap” program which will be primarily on City streets. On State roads, the program will be one of elimination. The key difference is that the red-cap program allows for us to reestablish use of the light in the future in better fiscal times. The elimination program, that which will be engaged on State roads, involves the permanent shut-off of a light as the City bears the burden of a State service in the case of street-lighting.
In areas surrounding major intersections at traffic lights, the policy will be relaxed. Additionally, this policy will not apply at school buildings.
Mayor Fung commented, “Unfortunately, because of a number of circumstances, we are forced to reduce the level of service on street lighting. As the City Council targeted the 'lighting of streets' line item for reduction, I am obligated to make an effort to comply. This program will help us work toward closing the gap on that budget line reduction with a minimal impact to our community.” He added, “Further, we are facing millions more in cuts from the State next year, and my administration must continue to look for immediate cash savings while at the same time seeking long-term structural reform.”