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County battles gas prices

March 17, 2011

Private citizens aren't the only people in Catawba County experiencing an economic crunch since gas prices started to increase.

County agencies, that provide essential transportation and response services to residents, are also looking for ways to cut fuel costs during an increasingly difficult budget year.

Catawba County Schools has about 246 buses it uses to transport the county's students to school and other activities. Some of those buses run double and triple routes to accommodate the needs of every student, said CCS transportation director Cecil W. Davis.

The county's newer buses hold 100 gallons of diesel fuel, and the older models hold about 60 gallons. The fleet travels about 2.6 million miles annually, or about 260,000 miles a month, Davis said.

CCS pays about $3.22 a gallon for diesel fuel.

State funding for the county's buses for the 2010-11 school year is based on a diesel fuel price of $2.16 a gallon. That price jumped to $2.51 a gallon in February, prompting the state to provide CCS with an additional $110,000 for fuel costs.

Davis said Thursday additional funding could be available in May, but that hasn't been confirmed from the state.

Increasing fuel prices are nothing new for the Catawba County Sheriff's Office.

"This is something we've been combatting for years," said Catawba County Sheriff Coy Reid.

The department has about 76 county cars that officers use on a daily basis.

"We've kind of gotten away from the old shift meetings where everyone comes into the office," Reid said. "This keeps (officers) from using more gas to drive into the office."

The sheriff's office jurisdiction within the county is divided into four zones. Each officer is assigned to a zone, and Reid said the assignments are kept as close as possible to where the officer lives.

Deputies leave their homes when shifts start, and immediately they're at work. The addition of laptop computers inside officers' vehicles also helps with fuel costs, Reid said.

"If you see a marked unit sitting in a church parking lot, he's not just sitting there," Reid said. "He's doing his field reports out there."

Deputies can complete their reports and submit them online without having to drive back to the sheriff's office in Newton.

Gas prices in Hickory are, on average, about $3.50 a gallon.

Comments

Glad fuel prices arn't impacting the City of Newton

March 18, 2011 by Seymore Beaver (not verified), 3 years 31 weeks ago
Comment: 258

I'm so glad to see that Newton Public Works has found a source for fuel as the waste incurred by needless travel is excessive. I'll illustrate my point with one department.

Last Saturday a big fire truck drove up and around town so the firefighters could eat a pancake breakfast at the First Baptist Church in Newton while the truck station in Startown and assigned to protect that district came for breakfast at the Prime Sirloin. Lord knows where the rest of them were eating.

Tax money bought and paid for fire stations throughout town so a fire truck could quickly get to a call. They were built with kitchens so the fire fighters could remain in district. the guys go to work knowing they ought to be at the station and should bring food to cook.

Yes it is nice for the guys to get out but the wear and tear on the trucks as well as the fuel being wasted shows that fiscal responsibility isn't a primary concern.

Anyone else see waste by the city?

City of Newton take note...

March 18, 2011 by Backbone (not verified), 3 years 31 weeks ago
Comment: 257

I see a lot of city vehicles aimlessly wandering about during the work day. It is time to rein them in as well, especially the big dielsel guzzeling fire trucks roaming around, WHEN THERE AINT NO FIRE!

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