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Fore! Atlantic County golf cart lease changing

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Golf carts

Operations manager Matt Plunkett cleans the new gas-powered golf carts, which recently replaced electric carts, at Green Tree Golf Course in Egg Harbor Township.

A misunderstanding about a golf cart lease that lands on the front page is a sure sign that it’s an election year in New Jersey.

Atlantic County’s administration recently pursued what used to be a routine task — leasing 65 golf carts and utility vehicles for three years. Golfers need them at the county’s Green Tree Golf Course.

The county asked for bids on providing electric carts, powered by rechargeable batteries. When there were no bids to provide them, it opened the bidding to those providing gas-powered carts. A Pennsylvania firm will do that for $229,650 for three years.

Ho hum. But the county needed to run the contract through the county commission. After the commissioners unanimously approved the contract for the gas carts, a dispute arose over how that was done.

Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick, discovering belatedly that she had voted for carts that run on a fossil fuel, said she had been misled.

County Administrator Jerry DelRosso said the commissioners were told that the county received no bids for providing electric carts and so had to open the bidding to providers of gas-powered ones.

A reporter diligently dug from the meeting’s recorded minutes the part pertaining to the vote and discovered how this kerfuffle might have happened. The commission clerk reading the resolution on the cart lease first says it is for “65 electric and two gas-powered vehicles.” Then she catches herself and corrects that to “for the lease of 65 electric and/or gas-powered golf carts and utility vehicles.”

That stumble plus the original intent to go with rechargeable electric carts meant commissioners had to pay close attention to be aware of the change.

There are advantages to electric golf carts and not emitting carbon dioxide like a gas-engine cart is one. They’re also quieter than gas carts, and depending on air conditions the smell of exhaust can linger on the course.

Gas carts have their advantages too. They tend to be quicker and have a considerably longer range — 100 to 180 miles for a gasoline cart compared to 15 to 25 miles for an electric cart. That means gas carts can run 10 or more rounds of golf before refueling, while electric carts need recharging after two rounds.

To the fiscally prudent Atlantic County government, all these considerations pale next to the fact that no company offered to provide electric carts at the price it was willing to pay.

Presumably the county could have offered to pay much more, or sought bids at whatever price for each type of cart.

That would have been interesting and brought the golf cart lease into the contentious realm of spending more to signal climate virtue.

We’re glad the county can use the reasonably priced carts for at least the next three years.


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