KINGSPORT, TN - The City of Kingsport used 6,500 more gallons of fuel this year than last year - a 1.3 percent increase - because of annexation, according to The Kingsport Times-News.

Steve Hightower, fleet maintenance manager for the city, recently reported to city officials that Kingsport used more than 509,000 gallons of fuel during the 2009 fiscal year - 228,453 gallons of gasoline ($455,462) and 281,151 of B-10 biodiesel ($679,246).

Based on reported mileage requested from several city departments to calculate how many more miles employees have to drive to service annexed areas, Hightower's data showed the streets and sanitation department added 2,340 miles in its service routes, grounds maintenance saw an increase of 10 acres of mowing and 10 acres of landscaping, parks maintenance added 4,500 miles to its service route, and the police department is now patrolling an additional 2,970 miles of roads.

Contributing to the increased fuel usage are the 11 additional vehicles fleet implemented last fiscal year, including one new fire truck. That increase is not accounted for in the fuel usage study, Hightower said.

Hightower said Kingsport would continue to find ways to reduce fuel usage, but added the city could only reduce so much. "We keep pushing to reduce consumption, but the fleet gets bigger, so naturally as areas get larger you have to increase consumption. You eventually get to the point where you can't reduce any more."

Kingsport has used about 500,000 gallons of fuel in the past several years. The city has 760 pieces of equipment in its fleets; in 1996, that number was around 500. To help reduce fuel usage, Kingsport has purchased a number of hybrids over the past couple of years - 19 total along with one electric vehicle in use by the city's wastewater department. Hightower said the city is looking at purchasing a few additional hybrid vehicles this coming fiscal year, reported the Times-News.