04/08/11 — Goldsboro needs more gas money

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Goldsboro needs more gas money

By Ty Johnson, Phyllis Moore and Steve Herring
Published in News on April 8, 2011 1:46 PM

Goldsboro officials have had to ask for more money to keep their fleet of cars and trucks on the road because of rising gas prices.

City Council approved the reallocation of $230,000 from the unappropriated fund balance to the Public Works Department's fuel budget. Of that amount, $166,000 will be used for gasoline while the remaining $64,000 will go to the purchase of diesel fuel.

Rising gas prices since the budget's adoption left the city with enough money to purchase fuel for its fleet through April 6 -- 11 weeks short of the end of the fiscal year.

Other government entities have not yet had to make a similar plan to offset the increase in fuel prices.

Wayne County Public Schools has a fuel and transportation budget, but rising fuel prices of late have not created any major problems, said Ken Derksen, public information officer.

"It doesn't work the same way for state-run organizations," he said. "It's calculated differently. Even though prices have gone up at the pump, they have not gone up for school districts. At this point, the district has not been impacted by the fuel prices. That's consistent for school districts across the state."

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said that the county is within what had been budgeted for gas so far this year.

The county implemented two policies designed to conserve fuel about two years ago. The first regulates how long county vehicles can be left idling. The second was the installation of computers in vehicles used by the county inspections department. The computers allow inspectors to inspect a site and file their paperwork online without having to make multiple trips to and from their offices. Both measures have reduced fuel consumption.

At the City Council meeting, Mayor Al King held back a chuckle while discussing the proposed resolution to continue funding the city's vehicle services.

"I think we understand the need for that increase request," he said during the council's work session before the resolution was approved by consent.

Director of Public Works Neil Bartlett said the gasoline issue has been something his department has been studying for some time and that following the filling up of their underground tanks last week, he knew that this week's City Council meeting would be the best time to request the additional funds.

"We knew our consumption rate and this was the time to do it," he said, noting that gas itself would not have run out April 6, just the funds to purchase additional fuel. "It was not an issue that had been put off or not thought about."

Public Works handles the gasoline purchasing and fueling for all city vehicles, including police cars, fire trucks, and GATEWAY buses as well as vehicles in Walnut Creek thanks to a contract with the village.