Gas Prices and Governments

Tax dollars are going fast. A lot of money is being spent on high fuel prices. President Bush made a move toward cheaper gas by temporarily stopping the purchase of crude oil for the government's reserve and also suspending environmental rules. Now consumers and governments are waiting to see if these new strategies will work.

Most of us may be limit our driving, but there are some occupations where a person drives no matter how much it costs. Nacogdoches firefighter Myrick Richard said, "We got to run emergency calls. We can't stop." No one expects that to happen, but budget writers are keeping a close watch on fuel and energy costs. Deputy city manager Victoria LaFollet-Koenig said, "The two hardest things. The two greatest unknown variables we got to deal with."

Half way through the budget year the city has spent 67% of its $413,000 fuel budget. Pretty good standing considering the high fuel prices experienced during the hurricanes. If necessary, governments know they can dip into their fund reserves. "That's why you do it. You plan. That's part of the budgeting process is to plan for the unexpected. This is the unexpected and that's why you do it," explained LaFollett-Koenig.

Like the city, the county is encouraging smart use of fuel. Sheriff Thomas Kerss said, "That's going to include in some cases during slower periods of time doubling the officers up to cut down on the number of vehicles, but not necessarily the number of officers on patrol." If necessary minor calls will be handled by phone and deputies will stay in outlying communities longer to avoid trips back and forth. Then there's the synthetic oil used in the fleet to improve fuel efficiency. All measures to save gas dollars without sacrificing public safety.