Local News

State’s car operation taking a hit from rising gas prices

Posted May 28, 2008 7:03 p.m. EDT
Updated May 29, 2008 3:50 p.m. EDT

— High oil and gas prices are hiking the price of operating the state's vehicle fleet, and that is being passed on to more than 100 state agencies and universities that use its cars.

“Well, it's a giant rental agency and the cheapest rate in town,” fleet director John Massey said.

Those rates are going up effective July 1, according to a recent memo. The reason: higher fuel prices.

“You never want to see an increase like that, certainly not an unexpected one,” said Keith Acree, spokesman for the Department of Correction.

The Department of Correction is the largest user of the state fleet. Acree said the increase will cost the DOC almost $4 million next year.

“They're using those vehicles to visit offenders in the field, doing curfew checks,” Acree said.

To help ease the cost for client agencies Massey said, the motor pool will add smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

“Four cylinder in lieu of six cylinders, six cylinders in lieu of eight cylinders,” Massey said.

The state is also buying more hybrids. Currently, there are 124 hybrids in the fleet. Nine more will be purchased this coming year.

Massey said the Department of Transportation is the state's second-largest user and faces a hit of approximately $2 million next year. The DOT said the added expense will likely result in less money for maintenance work and field operations.

As for the DOC, Acree said it is looking into options.

“It's sort of one of these things you look at. You look at it month by month and you manage it best you can,” Acree said.

Motor Fleet Management said this is the first price increase it's had since 2005.