PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL – Higher gasoline prices, more vehicles on the road, and a generous take-home car policy are driving the Palm Beach County sheriff’s annual fuel costs over the $7 million mark, according to the Palm Beach Post. While per-gallon prices are up, the number of gallons being pumped is rising 10 percent a year. Since 2000, the sheriff’s office has added 660 vehicles to its fleet, which numbers 2,321 cars, trucks, and buses. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is asking for a $3.2 million hike in his fuel budget for next year, which would raise spending to $7.2 million, the report said. Some of the increased gasoline use is due to a take-home vehicle policy that allows 1,100 deputies and 99 civilians to use their assigned cars to commute to work and run errands. Use of the cars for out-of-county travel is not authorized unless the deputy lives in another county. The county uses about 225,000 gallons of gas a month for all county agencies including the big user, PBSO, as well as fire-rescue, parks, road maintenance, and other county departments with large fleets. The county buys about 3 million gallons a year, with about 1.7 million gallons going to the sheriff’s office, which consumes about 2.3 million gallons each year, including gasoline from the village of Wellington and pumped at gasoline stations using a credit card system. Deputies use up to 90 gallons a week, according to county gasoline records during the past year. Bradshaw said there’s little his department can do to reduce fuel use, the report concluded.