Gas prices have a direct impact on budgets of every size, including those for operating municipal departments.
In Huntersville, Town Engineer and Public Works Director Max Buchanan has around $50,000 in his annual “vehicle fuel and lubricant” budget. Buchanan said the town has three 1,000-gallon fuel tanks – two for regular fuel and one for diesel – and vehicles in the public works and parks and recreation departments regularly tap into the supply.
Buchanan said, on average, the tanks are refilled about once a month, but added he and other town officials keep an eye on gas price trends and try to pick the best time to stock up.
“If prices are dropping, we’ll use all we have in the tanks and refill them when the prices are low,” Buchanan said. “If things start trending the other way, we’ll go ahead and top them off. The price makes a big difference when you’re getting hundreds of gallons at a time.”
Buchanan said the town has tried to take advantage of lower prices on regular fuel, but added the cost of diesel – used in most of the larger vehicles and work equipment – has not dropped as much.
“But the price of fuel is definitely something we keep an eye on,” Buchanan said. “We’re probably just like everybody else, trying to load up at the best price.”
Budgeted fuel expenses
Public Works: $50,000
Parks & Rec: $24,000
Public Works: $20,000
Parks & Rec: $1,500