Houston County Fuel Costs

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Rising fuel prices are affecting the bottom line of many businesses, including Houston County operations.

The national average price for gas hit $4.00 a gallon on Sunday, and experts are predicting that it won't stop there.

Houston County officials say they're doing all they can to work within the budget to provide services to the public.

However, they admit it's quite a challenge.

The rising cost of fuel is hitting the Houston County budget hard.

Three hundred thousand dollars is what's earmarked for fuel in the current budget. However, county officials say the increase has forced them to become very creative in managing services.

There has been discussion of raising fees, for certain services, but even that may not be enough to cover the shortfall.

Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver said, “We have to do some more drastic measures. We have to provide services. We have to pick up garbage. We have to provide law enforcement. So, all we can do without cutting those services obviously, all we can do is try to make them as efficient as possible.”

That efficiency includes planning shorter trips to haul dirt and parking dump trucks at work sites, then shuttling workers to the site with vehicles that use less gas.

One adjustment was made to the garbage routes because trucks only get two and a half to three miles to the gallon. But more drastic measures might be inevitable.

Houston County Engineer Mark Pool said, “If fuel gets way up there, [we] may not be able to pick up garbage every week, maybe every other week. I know people don't want to pay an outrageous price for garbage to be picked up because everything’s going up. We just got to relook at everything we're doing and how we're doing it.”

County officials say they're working to reduce usage because they intend to stay as close to the budget as possible.

Pool says that they're looking into using more fuel efficient vehicles in the future. That includes consideration of vehicles with four cylinder engines and electric cars and pickups.

Commissioners will review the fuel allowance for 2009 during budget hearings in August.