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Municipalities cut back to fuel vehicles

Posted May 22, 2008
Updated May 23, 2008

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— Prices at the gas pumps are leaving some wallets reading "empty." There is talk that gas prices could rise even more by the end of next year, and that's a worrisome prospect if you're a local-government manager who has to keep a fleet on the road.

Municipalities buy gas in bulk, but their prices are climbing, too. As prices soar, many must find ways to cut back to make up the difference between that they budgeted and what they have to pay.

"We have to make decisions on a daily basis,” Wake County Fleet Director Thomas Kuryla said.

Wake County has 860 vehicles to fill up, half of them belonging to the sheriff's office.

"We look at alternative fuels, fuel consumption,” Kuryla added.

Twenty-six percent of the fleet uses alternative fuel, such as ethanol. The county wants more hybrid cars, but they are more expensive to buy.

“As the price of fuel is going up, that is going to outweigh over the vehicle's life,” Kuryla said.

The county's sheriff's office 2007-08 budget allocated approximately $804,000 for fuel. The proposed  2008-09 budget increases that by a little over $161,000.

The City of Raleigh has almost two and half times as many vehicles as Wake County. It is trying to buy more hybrids, too.

"The problem is so many of our vehicles, whether it be firetrucks or solid waste vehicles, there is no alternative for what we have,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.

The city expects to pay 44 percent more for gas next year. That adds up to about $1.7 million. For that amount of money, it could hire 60 to 70 more people.

“That's the equivalent of police officers that could be hired or other personnel,” Meeker said.

The county, meanwhile, is looking to spend about $300,000 more for gas next year. However, with the way gas prices are going, even those estimates could be conservative.

Overall, the county's entire budget went from about $2.02 million to $2.38 million.

"Like the average family, we are stuck paying more,” Meeker said.

Analysts say drivers should be prepared to pay $4 a gallon by next week. The average national price of gasoline Thursday was $3.83 a gallon. In the Triangle, a gallon of regular was a couple of cents less – at about $3.81.

Cary expects to pay about 30 percent more for gas next year. Some communities, like Garner, said they are breaking even on gas prices by cutting back on other things they used to do, such as leaving vehicles running when drivers were out of them.


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  • fkhaywood May 23, 2008

    Instead of relying so heavily on foreign imported oil, we need to develop our own sources in and around the US. I lived in Alaska in the early 1970's, just prior to construction of the pipelline in 1975. Everybody said there would be major environmentsl crises from oil spills if the pipeline were built. History has proven those forecasts to be erroneous. The pipline has operated for 33 years without any kind of major spill. Yes, we need to develop other sources of energy besides oil, but there is nothing on the horizon that can come close to satisfing our energy needs in the immediate short term, but oil. If we don't develop our own sources of oil in the US, we will face certain bankruptcy!!

  • enigma1469 May 23, 2008

    Stop wasting money on stuff like government paid fireworks shows on holidays, and landscaping, and all of the governemnt handouts to people, and they can buy all of the fuel they need.

  • blackdog May 23, 2008

    ...yes, scientists with the USGS agree there could be .....that is COULD be several billion barrels of crude in ANWR. Only exploratory drilling will tell. The estimates put the production at low amounts compared to the demand here in the U.S. Production from Prudhoe Bay has fallen since 1988. The amount is less than 25% of U.S. production. In other words, the amount in ANWR is not significant enough to offset the speculative market driven prices. The real possibility of gas being in the $6 - $8 per gallon price range is a definite possibility unless production from Iraq is increased and normalization with Venezuela and Brazil brings increased supply markets.

  • Counting Beans May 23, 2008

    71RT...please read my post again...

    I said they have much greater taxes than we do. Keep in mind that gas taxes alone do not fund the programs you mentioned in those countries, everything is heavily taxed in Europe (but that is another argument) but my point is that the US currently has cheap gas as compared to the rest of the world, and the rise in prices is here to stay.

    The economic infrastructures are more similiar than you think. The net %'s of disposable income works out to be similar, it is just we pay more for insurance, etc. out of our pockets while the europeans collect it up front. Net disposable income is comparable...they just do it differently

  • 71RT May 23, 2008

    France, UK, Belgium, Italy, Germany...all are well over $8 per gallon now. While they have MUCH greater taxes then we do, still, the global demand pressures from China and India will continue, and my friends, the days of $2 gas are pretty much over. Brazil just found a bunch of oil...time for the tree huggers to jump in the lake, and let us drill (and pursue all other options...)

    Counting Beans,
    You cannot compare the US economic infrastructure to that of Europe. It is not apples to apples. The high fuel prices that Europeans pay fund such things as health care, mass transit, and education. Americans paying the same price as Europeans would not enjoy these benefits, therefore the comparison is not accurate.

  • hitwoman1965 May 23, 2008

    well it is election year so this can be used to buy some votes they always got some great crisis that needs to handle on election years lets see which one promises to lower the prices and help us cant buy votes with cash we use false promises on * helping * lower gas pftttttttt

  • blackdog May 23, 2008

    ...there is much erroneous interpretation of news reported.

  • Counting Beans May 23, 2008

    shine...those are the converted amounts

  • Elibeth May 23, 2008

    This is for nc1state first of all do your research. If you would see how much equipment we carry in our patrol vehicles you would understand. Everything I have will not fit in a camry etc. Second the dodge charger gets better gas mileage then the crown victoria. Also if you wold look some troopers have the Impala.

  • Kingfish May 23, 2008

    If you people in the media will quit reporting that gas prices will hit $7.00 a gallon...they WILL NOT hit $7.00 a gallon. Try reporting that gas prices will be at $1.50 a gallon!!! Traders will say to themselves that they must have missed some report, and they'll start unloading oil, which will drive the price DOWN!!! You doomsday reporters are going to cause a doomsday!!!