10/24/05 — City officials struggle to overcome record gas prices

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City officials struggle to overcome record gas prices

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 24, 2005 2:07 PM

Some people have canceled weekend trips. Others are now carpooling to work and putting their children on the school bus.

Many people have changed their routine trying to save a few dollars since Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, creating record gas prices.

Municipal officials in Wayne County are no different.

At their annual "mini retreat" on Oct. 12, the Goldsboro City Council discussed the rising cost of gasoline.

Goldsboro is more than $30,000 over its gasoline budget for the year, and City Manager Joe Huffman said he expects that deficit to increase by year's end.

"We are anticipating spending $100,000 more on gas than we budgeted," Huffman said.

Pikeville is seeing similar problems. Despite its planning for an increase in gas costs, the town is experiencing money problems.

Town Administrator Lonnie Graves said after noticing a trend of rising gas cost over the past few years, officials had planned for a potential increase in gas prices and over-budgeted for 2005-06.

"We went up 30 percent, I believe, with anticipation of rising fuel costs," Graves said.

But the town's foresight did not envision the current spike in prices.

Both Pikeville and Goldsboro officials have begun looking into ways to save money.

Huffman said that over the past few months, the Goldsboro city staff has been advised to save gasoline whenever possible.

In Pikeville, Graves said the town has scaled back some services to help ease the burden of additional costs at the pump. Trash collection services have been decreased from twice to once weekly.

Huffman said Goldsboro has yet to take these measures.

"Currently, there is no disruption of service," he said.

While services remain on schedule and city staff are conducting business as usual, Huffman said that the city is looking into other ways to conserve gasoline in the future, including potential purchase of hybrid vehicles.

Graves is also planning for the future, he said.

"There's a million other things we can do to improve our fuel usage, and we're trying to examine every avenue."

-- New Argus Staff Writer Turner Walston contributed to this story.