Government Fleet Top News

High Price of Gas Stretches Budgets of South Florida Cities

June 16, 2004

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL -- South Florida's cities are feeling the financial pinch of rising gas prices, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.As the cost of fuel climbs, city officials across the region say they are struggling to stay within budget while keeping their vehicles running.While some cities have budgeted extra funds to prepare for price increases, others are planning to dip into reserves or cut back on other programs to pay for fuel.Hollywood will spend at least $658,000 on gas this year, nearly double what it spent last year, said Joel Wall, fleet manager for the city's more than 600 vehicles.Davie Town Administrator Tom Willi said his finance department has already seen a 5 percent increase in gas expenditures this year.He said the town spent $440,000 last year but could spend 20 percent more for fuel this year if prices keep rising. Willi said the town will have to draw from the contingency fund if the fuel budget is overspent.Broward Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Liz Calzadilla said the department buys 2.3 million gallons a year to fuel all county vehicles. This year, it budgeted $1.10 a gallon. The Sheriff's Office is now spending $1.42 a gallon.In Margate, Public Works Director Ray Brenner said the city budgeted for the increase in gas prices last summer. He said expenditures have been within 1.5 percent of budgeted costs. But the city will feel a budget crunch as gas prices continue to climb, he said.Margate, like other cities, buys in bulk, in batches between 7,000 and 9,000 gallons. Brenner said bulk buying keeps costs down somewhat, but the hit has still been big.Last May, the city paid about $1.18 a gallon. Its most recent purchase was $1.80 a gallon. The city fuels not only public works vehicles but also police cruisers, fire engines and ambulances.

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