10/06/08 — Gas prices not causing much strain on city, county budgets

View Archive

Gas prices not causing much strain on city, county budgets

By Steve Herring and Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 6, 2008 1:46 PM

Goldsboro and Wayne County officials say, for now, the escalating gas prices will not affect their budgets.

City officials said the $1.43 million budgeted for fuel for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, will be enough.

"Right now, we're looking good," Public Works Director Neil Bartlett said. "We've spent approximately 25 percent of our allocated fuel budget, and we're about a fourth of the way through the year."

Bartlett said the city has spent $210,000 on gasoline and $107,000 on diesel fuel so far on its 238-car fleet and 120 pieces of specialized equipment such as tractors, backhoes and motor graders.

And as gas prices go up at the pump, they go up for those who, like city officials, buy in bulk -- but the price isn't always as exorbitant.

"Our peak price for gasoline was $3.48 a gallon back in July," Bartlett said. "The diesel peak was $4.17 a gallon."

Unlike what some drivers are experiencing at some of the gas pumps around town, however, the city hasn't been limited on the amount it


"We've had to wait a little longer for our deliveries, but we have been able to fill our tanks weekly," Bartlett said.

Still, city officials are looking at ways to cut the amount of gas used without decreasing services.

"We are doing as much as we can to conserve things, such as not allowing vehicles to idle and combining trips whenever possible," Bartlett said.

The Goldsboro Police De-partment has about 16 patrol cars out daily, police Chief Tim Bell said, and officers try to cut off the engines when they can to conserve gas.

But with even more land to patrol now with the newly annexed areas off Buck Swamp and Salem Church roads and the necessity to keep emergency equipment running in emergency situations, it is harder to do that.

Goldsboro's fuel use also includes GATEWAY, as the city buys the fuel and then the county pays them back. GATEWAY uses about 1,860 gallons a week, Bartlett said.

Meanwhile, County Manager Lee Smith said a combination of savings generated by the county's vehicle idling policy and consolidation of some routes is allowing the county "to hold its own."

Smith said he budgeted for gas at $4 per gallon, and the lower-than-$4-a-gallon gas prices have helped as well.

The county normally spends about $800,000 a year -- about $69,000 a month -- on fuel for its fleet of 300 vehicles. Currently, the county is about $1,000 under budget.

Smith said the county's new four-day workweek is also a factor since the vehicles are parked on Fridays. He said Sheriff Carey Winders had made efforts to conserve fuel on his end as well.