Grove City Council delayed its Dec. 3 vote on legislation that would create a grant program to help residents pay to install electric-vehicle charging stations.

The delay came after lively discussion between council members and Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage that largely centered on philosophical differences about the role of government.

The ordinance, which is to be reconsidered Monday, Dec. 17, would establish a grant program with $25,000 from the city's general fund.

Residents looking to install electric-vehicle charging stations at their homes would be eligible for a $500 grant. For installations at multifamily residences such as condominium and apartment complexes, grants would be available up to $1,000, an amount that was $4,000 before it was amended Dec. 3.

The legislation is intended to give residents an incentive to buy electric cars, with the goal of reducing carbon emissions to ease the effects of climate change, according to its sponsor, Councilman Ted Berry.

Three council members -- Christine Houk, Jeffrey Davis and Steve Robinette -- expressed skepticism about whether a city government should provide grants for charging installations at residents' homes.

Houk and Davis said taxpayer money should not be used in that way because they think its effect would be too individualized.

"It doesn't sit right with me," Houk said.

Robinette said he'd view more favorably a proposal that offered grants for charging stations at public locations such as parking lots. Berry's initial legislation did that, but it was revised to include multifamily residences instead of commercial locations because other commercial incentives exist, such as a rebate program from AEP Ohio.

In October, the initial intent was to offer grant opportunities at a rate of $500 for residential installation and $2,000 for commercial installation.

"We're revising that to focus primarily on residential applications, because while AEP has a rebate program for commercial entities, it doesn't have a residential grant program," Berry said. "If this is enacted, we would be encouraging businesses in our community to go through the AEP program."

The commercial rebate program AEP offers provides 50 to 80 percent of the cost of buying and installing a charger for a business, he said.

Under the proposed grant-application process detailed in the legislation, residents would need to provide two cost estimates for the proposed work, proof of property ownership or a lease and affidavit from the property owner. The property would have to be brought into compliance with the city's zoning code to qualify for funding.

Councilman Roby Schottke said the program would give taxpayer money directly back to the taxpayers who install charging stations.

A recent report from the federal government warns of the effects of climate change, stating environmental and economic effects would be felt by the end of the century if more isn't done to curb carbon emissions. Transportation is the largest source of carbon emissions in the U.S.

If the proposal passes, Grove City would be among the first cities to use general funds to create such a grant program, according to industry experts. Most incentives come from federal or statewide initiatives or directly from electric utility companies, The Columbus Dispatch has reported.

kstankiewicz@dispatch.com

@kevin_stank