DENVER, Colo. --- Government fleet managers are scrambling to find ways to deal with rising gasoline prices at a time of stretched budgets and falling tax receipts.
Local governments and school districts are pouring considerably more money into filling the fuel tanks of bulldozers, buses, trucks and snowplows. As a result, fleet managers are encouraging department carpooling as one way to cut down on fuel expenses.
For example, in the first three months of 2008, fuel expenses for Colorado's Jefferson County fleet totaled about $670,000. Buck Benke, director of fleet services, said the county is already $70,000 over budget. Benke budgeted $2.4 million in 2008 --- an average of $200,00 a month.
The school district in Colorado's Douglas County has added devices to buses to improve fuel economy and has analyzed bus routes to ensure they are as efficient as possible, Larry Borland, the district's executive director for safety and transportation, told the Denver Post. The district transports 15,000 students each day.
"We're trying like everyone else to keep our head above water," Borland said.
For the fiscal year that concluded June 30, the Colorado Department of Transportation spent $10.15 million --- an average of about $845,752 a month --- on fuel for its fleet, Stacey Stegman, a department spokesperson, told the Denver Post. In 2008, the department's motor fuel costs are averaging about $1 million a month. At the same time, the agency is seeing its fuel-tax receipts decline because motorists are curbing their fuel consumption.
"We've gotten the feeling that between $3 and $4 a gallon is where the motoring public makes driving decisions based on the price of gasoline," Scott Richrath, CDOT budget and policy analyst, told the Post.