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Rising Gas Prices Put Brakes On State's Motor Fleet

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RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's motor fleet management keeps 8,500 cars on the road every day, but high gas prices are putting a strain on the budget.

North Carolina buys 250,000 gallons of gas every month. Gas prices are up about 40 cents over what the state was paying just weeks ago. Right now, the state is shelling out 50,000 more per month for gas.

"The budget is always of great concern -- the measures that have been put in place to curtail travel unless it's absolutely necessary, to buy the types of vehicles that will get the absolute maximum miles per gallon, and that type of thing [are basically] the only things that we can do," said John Massey, director of the motor fleet.

Adding fuel to the budget-straining fire, officials said major cutbacks in the state's motor fleet have already been in place for two budget cycles.

"[It] has curtailed our purchases for the last couple of years, but it's getting to the point now where we might have to start catching up a bit, so we have ordered every single vehicle available with flex fuels," Massey said.

Officials believe flex fuel or alternative fuel vehicles are the wave of the future for the state. The state currently has 2,000 alternative fuel vehicles on the road.

Officials also say the $50,000-a-month increase in the state gas bill does not include the State Highway Patrol. The patrol is still tallying the impact of gas price hikes on its budget.