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Soaring gas prices leave Raleigh budget writers guessing

Posted February 21, 2012

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— Soaring gas prices are not only causing problems for drivers. Raleigh officials are also trying to figure out how to budget for police cars, fire engines, garbage trucks and other city-owned vehicles.

“Fuel is a big part of our budget,” Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said Tuesday.

City officials are working on the next budget, which begins in July. They are looking at past trends and expert forecasts to determine how much to set aside.

“Nobody has a crystal ball, so we do try to be conservative and budget on the high side,” Allen said.

Gary Harris, executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association, said some pundits estimate gas prices could be just over $4 a gallon by the end of April.

If prices top $4 a gallon and stay there, it could put a big pinch on the city's budget.

Soaring gas prices leave Raleigh budget writers guessing Soaring gas prices leave Raleigh budget writers guessing

Allen said the city sets aside about a $500,000 to help cover unexpected spikes in fuel costs. He said the city also has been downsizing vehicles to get better gas mileage.
Raleigh is also using more hybrids and electric plug-in vehicles, as well as vehicles that use propane and compressed natural gas for fuel.

In 2008, the city spent $6.3 million on fuel, officials said. That number was a bit lower in 2009 and 2010, before going back up to $6.2 million last year.

So far this year, the city has spent $4.3 million on fuel.

Driver Tye Owens said even higher gas prices would put a crimp in his spending.

“(I would) maybe go to the movies a little less, not drive as much as you want to. But you do what you got to do,” Owens said.

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  • Vietnam Vet Feb 22, 2012

    Prices are rising and yet the oil companies are EXPORTING gasoline, which of course limits our supply thereby raising prices. Isn't it fun being manipulated? I think all the product refined here should stay here and maybe we wouldn't keep being gouged at the pump, cities as well as individuals, giving the oil companies record profits.

  • southerncannuck Feb 22, 2012

    Hybrid buses and hybrid garbage trucks yield an increase in fuel efficiency of 30%.
    The Ford Fusion Hybrid has an EPA combined fuel economy of 39 mpg. The Ford Crown Vic gets 19 mpg
    The Chevy Volt uses electricity for most users.
    Demand more from your elected leaders.

  • westernwake1 Feb 22, 2012

    "America’s fuel consumption isn’t driven by fire and garbage trucks" - southerncannuck

    A city's fuel budget is driven by large vehicles such as fire and garbage trucks. Focussing on delivering all the city services using small cars to save fuel does not provide the solution.

  • southerncannuck Feb 22, 2012

    “So should Raleigh come empty your trash into a sub-compact instead of a garbage truck?

    Should they send a Prius when your home is buring down instead of a fire truck?

    Should the police chase down speeders in a Yugo?

    Inquiring minds want to know...”

    Somehow I don’t think that you’re all that inquiring about using less fuel, but more interested in the outrage of the whole “gas sure is expensive” thing.

    America’s fuel consumption isn’t driven by fire and garbage trucks.

  • fayncmike Feb 22, 2012

    "I have no sympathy for anyone or any organizations that purchased vehicle in the last 10 years and face high fuel costs. It’s voluntary! Few people need more than a low power sedan. Few people are so important that they need to drive above 65mph. Gas is expensive? Use less!
    southerncannuck"

    Well to be truthful gas is getting pretty expensive. I fill my Prius up every Wednesday and today it cost me $9.35! That's outrageous.

  • hermperez Feb 22, 2012

    Actually many police departments in Europe use small cars, why not here also?

    Hydraulic-diesel hybrid trash trucks are becoming popular, one advantage is that they dont wake you up at 6AM with a roaring diesel engine.. they use much less fuel and much less wear on the brakes in their stop&go daily routes.

  • westernwake1 Feb 22, 2012

    "I have no sympathy for anyone or any organizations that purchased vehicle in the last 10 years and face high fuel costs. It’s voluntary! Few people need more than a low power sedan. Few people are so important that they need to drive above 65mph. Gas is expensive? Use less!" - southerncannuck

    So should Raleigh come empty your trash into a sub-compact instead of a garbage truck?

    Should they send a Prius when your home is buring down instead of a fire truck?

    Should the police chase down speeders in a Yugo?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

  • southerncannuck Feb 22, 2012

    I have no sympathy for anyone or any organizations that purchased vehicle in the last 10 years and face high fuel costs. It’s voluntary! Few people need more than a low power sedan. Few people are so important that they need to drive above 65mph.
    Gas is expensive? Use less!

  • archangel44369 Feb 22, 2012

    Yea...Really?
    What do they think their citizens are thinking about...
    With gas going up and up, the power company with two rate hikes in the last 3 years, less product for more money at the stores, Chineese goods everywhere you look....and these politicians have to think about raising taxes or giving themselves a raise..it's a no brainer..
    Folks, the housing firms Freddie and FannieMae were only part of the problem...What sparked this recession was our dependance on foriegn oil and the price of that oil going through the roof...
    If gas keeps going up and stays there for months, does the economy feel stronger to your bottom line?
    Has our current government made your life any easier when it comes to paying your bills and putting food on the table?

    Wait till summer when you need some freon put in your air conditioner...Obama has given into the uber environmentalists and pushed uber tough regulations through the EPA..So far the cost of freon has doubled since Janurary 2012, it's predicte

  • piene2 Feb 22, 2012

    "Make sure your tires are properly inflated. "

    Actually follow the example of the large fleet procedures and add five pounds or more pressure. There are many advantages, the only trade off is slightly rougher ride.

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