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Morning Sun
  • Gas prices cause budget changes for police

  • Police in the area are not any different than the average citizen. Their vehicles need gasoline just like any other, meaning the recent surge in gas prices has hit them just the same.

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  • Police in the area are not any different than the average citizen. Their vehicles need gasoline just like any other, meaning the recent surge in gas prices has hit them just the same.
    But while the cost of doing business has gone up, police officials said they are not changing policy as far as patrols go, but that doesn’t mean they are not affected.
    Mendy Hulvey, Pittsburg Police chief, said that PPD hasn’t had many major changes, but there have been a few minor ones.
    “We’ve instructed not to keep the cars running while officers are at a site,” Hulvey said. “We’ve not reduced patrolling on any level. It’s still the same type of performance. But we’re being watchful and mindful of idling.”
    The PPD gets its gas from the city fuel pump. The city gets its gas from a distributor who wins a bid every year for a certain number of cents over the distributor’s cost for the gasoline.
    “We’re pretty fortunate to have a central fuel system,” said Bill Beasley, Pittsburg Public Works Director. “We do get a better price on fuel than that at a service station or buying it publically. But we’re subject to the same price increases. They get it from the same refineries, so if the gas price goes up, we feel it, too.”
    The budget for gasoline has to be flexible, Hulvey said. If gas prices go up, the PPD cannot simply stop performing its duties. Instead, it just means the increase in gas expenses will have to be made up elsewhere.
    “Any time prices go up in one area, it affects in another area,” Hulvey said. “If you’re spending more on gasoline, you have to cut back in other areas. It does mean when fuel prices go up, you have not so much in other places.”
    Sometimes, Hulvey said, that can include cutting back in training, new supplies, or other departments. Hulvey said she’s just glad the PPD doesn’t have to cover the same distances as the Sheriff’s Department.
    Sheriff Sandy Horton said his department paid $12,000 for gas in a recent month. That is even including a certain discount the deputies receive at the pump.
    “We don’t pay the tax at the pump. That makes it a little cheaper than the public pays,” Horton said. “We dealt with the high prices last summer. We budgeted enough, so we’re OK. We’re certainly not taking that for granted. The problem is, there are 1,100 miles of roads in Crawford County. That’s a lot of territory and a lot of county to cover.”
    Luckily, because of the longer distances involved, Horton said the sheriff’s department likely sees better gas mileage than, for instance, PPD.
    Page 2 of 2 - However, there are some rules Horton has implemented regarding gas.
    “We have a rule that they should not get their gas tanks below a half tank because we don’t want them getting called out and not having enough fuel to be able to respond,” Horton said. “If it’s 2 a.m. and they get called out west in the county, there’s not a lot of fuel options around.”
    While perhaps the police don’t have as many gas concerns as other departments, maybe the street department in Pittsburg does have big concerns.
    “We try to go out to the job site with as few vehicles as we need,” Beasley said.
    “Where it gets costly is in the operations laying asphalt and snow removal, because they run pretty much the whole shift. If you’re laying asphalt or plowing snow, you’re running that vehicle 24/7.”
    Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.
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