LUBBOCK, TEXAS – High gas prices are changing the look of city vehicles. The City of Lubbock expects to start replacing full-size trucks with smaller ones beginning in the 2008-09 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

The bigger trucks will be rotated to drivers who need the bigger vehicles. But city leaders hope they can get by in some places with trucks more fuel efficient and help lower expenses, according to

The city intends to buy about 30 quarter-ton trucks — such as the Ford Ranger or Chevrolet Colorado — for code and building inspecting in the next year, and move larger trucks into the water or streets department. The budget for vehicle replacement is increasing about $800,000.

The city anticipates spending $2.69 million more on fuel next year. Besides smaller vehicles, the city has taken other steps to curb costs. Citibus is using a federal grant to purchase a hybrid bus, and a new fuel dispensing system should make it more difficult for thieves to steal fuel from city ports.

Council members have pushed for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles where they can be used. The city has yet to make a large-scale move. City staff have said smaller trucks won’t hold up as well, especially in alleys, and the city might spend as much on maintenance as it does on fuel for bigger vehicles.