The city of Fresno may be in a better position to handle the rising fuel prices. Keep in mind, the city catches a break on fuel taxes so it pays about 20-cents less per gallon than you and I. Still, these are nervous times for city departments which rely on transportation.
Vehicles from the city fleet constantly come and go at the Fresno city maintenance yard. The city expects to pay over $8 million for fuel costs this year.
Assistant City Manager Bruce Rudd hopes the city doesn't have to dip into its contingency fund. He said, "We set aside about $700 thousand in a contingency in the event fuel prices jump above four dollars a gallon."
Rudd said the city budgeted for fuel costs expecting a higher price, about $3.85 per gallon. He said, "We're just now begin to seeing fuel prices creep into that 3.85 range which we means we haven't had to touch any of the reserves and we've had savings over the first 8-9 months of the fiscal year."
The move a decade ago to buy refuse vehicles and several FAX buses which run on natural gas has also helped bring fuel costs down.
Rudd explained, "Ironically as gasoline prices have escalated natural gas prices have actually declined so we kind of hedged the inflationary side of fuel prices when it comes to the alternative fuel fleet."
Police cruisers and fire department vehicles though still must fill up at the pump. Budgetary cutbacks at city parks have also led to reduced fuel costs, for now.
Rudd said, "if it gets to five dollars that will be a game changer for everybody."
Rudd added the city will continue to fund a fuel contingency plan for the next 4-5 years because of the volatility of fuel prices.