High Fuel Costs Concern County

When a big dump truck  pulls up to the pump, it's the beginning of a very significant fuel purchase.   The rigs hold 150-gallons when bone dry. Diesel is well over $4. As a result, auditors are crunching the numbers and determining, " Any department that had fuel in its budget is gonna be short."  That was the message from Keith Barber. Not very encouraging news when there's still over three months left in the budget year.

Judge Joe English said,  " We budgeted for gas about $3 a gallon and here we are today at $3.97. When we met last week it's $3.83, so it's gone up 14-cents just in one week. " Commissioners proposed a 30 day hiring freeze to help out, but discovered that's against the law. Barber explained,  " Once you've set a budget, it's pretty much set. You can't really reduce it once you've allocated it among the various departments."

So pressure is placed on the department heads and elected officials to make it their personal obligation to the taxpayer to cut back where they can. Exposition director Bill Plunkett said,  " At the expo center we've taken steps to lower our use of vehicles down because we have that luxury out there being able to alter our driving habits to meet our budget."

Most county departments can probably make a few adjustments to delay their request for more gas money, but for the road and bridge department they'll be back,  " Probably next week," said Doyle Pittmon.    Road and bridge has already cut back to a four day work week, but fuel costs are still expected to reach $35,000 a month.