Albany - You're paying for those high gas prices is more ways than one. More of your tax dollars are being spent to keep government vehicles and machinery on the roads. Just like you, local governments are shelling out more money to keep their vehicles on the road.
When there's an emergency, you can bet that Dougherty County EMS isn't going to calculate the cost of fuel before heading to the call. Larry Cook said, "Emergency services, they have to go when they have to go and they would be a priority as far as buying fuel."
But that priority is pricey. EMS was budgeted to purchase $50,000 in diesel and oil this fiscal year. As of April, they were almost 20% over budget, with two months left to go. In order to achieve better fuel efficiency ambulances are now idling less and no vehicle leaves the station unless on authorized business.
Public Works is working to cut costs too. Cook said, "We've already started plans in public works to make cut backs on non-essential use, car pooling to and from job sites and just reducing use of some of the vehicles."
Running heavy equipment is expensive. Each time the tank is empty it takes about 80 gallons of diesel to fill it up and with diesel at more than $4 a gallon, that's well over $300 a tank. Andrew Jackson said, "If I use it everyday real hard, I have to fill it up every day."
While public works has managed to stay within the $200,000 fuel budget, if the prices for gas and diesel continue to spike, that budget will bust.
Cook said, "Another month of these costs or another year of these same costs, and we would probably be in a little bit of trouble." Trouble that may be well on its way.
Public Works planned for an escalation in fuel prices for this fiscal year, so they're able to absorb the higher costs. But if prices continue to climb, they may have to cut down on some of services they perform.