Fuel prices concen city, district
Just as families are adjusting household finances to account for higher prices at the gas pump, local governments are seeing how four months of higher fuel prices affected current budgets and their possible consequences in the future.
For the city of De Soto, the budget appears fine, at least before the mid-May spike in fuel prices.
When the city of De Soto's 2004 budget was prepared last summer, gasoline prices were about $1.50 gallon. It was projected at that time, the city's six departments would spend a total of $22,100 for fuel this year, City Administrator Greg Johnson said
After paying the city's outstanding vehicle fuel bill in early May, the city had spent $6,903 for fuel so far this year, Johnson said. That represented 31 percent of the fuel budget through the first third of the year, he said.
"In terms of the total fuel budget, the city seems to be on track," Johnson said.
The city attempted to limit driving to that needed to deliver services, Johnson said. Should continued fuel-price increases outstrip budgeted amounts, the money would have to be moved from other budgeted line items, he said.
City Engineer Mike Brungardt said increased fuel prices could be noticed when the city opened bids for street projects, such as the proposed major improvements to Lexington Avenue set for this summer.
Paving projects obviously required petroleum-based products, and contractors would pass on their added operational costs, Brungardt said.
Transportation Director Jack Deyoe said the district was "pushed to the limit" by higher fuel prices in this budget year. He was weary of the effect continued high prices would have on the 2004-2005 budget year, which begins July 1.
"It's a big problem," he said. "It means anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000 more for diesel fuel alone."
For a number of reasons, the district's bus transportation contract with Laidlaw Inc. called for the district to buy the fuel for the buses, Deyoe said. The district was attempting to form a consortium with the Shawnee Mission and Blue Valley school districts to buy fuel, Deyoe said. The added buying power would allow the district to realize a small savings, he said.
Increased fuel prices were just one inflationary item that was putting pressure on the district in a year the Kansas Legislature failed to approve additional funding for K through 12 education, Deyoe said.
Although there have been reports of law enforcement agencies cutting back on patrols in response to fuel increases, that wouldn't be the case with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, department spokesman Tom Erickson said.
"We can't stop providing police service because of gas," he said. "There are no plans at all to change the way we're doing business.
"If we found that line item was getting dangerously low, we would contact the county manager's office to try to find more funds."