Fueling the Bottom Line

by Melissa Brunner

A discussion at Thursday's Shawnee County Commission meeting was one of those things you know but don't really think much about.

High gas prices have a lot of people frustrated, and the situation in Libya has many people wondering where fuel prices will go from here. I like to get the best price when I fill up my tank, but, if I miss out on a couple-cent difference, it amounts to less than fifty-cents. It's frustrating when I could have filled up the day before and save the money, but still not that big a deal in the grand scheme of things.

Take that few cent difference, though, and multiply it times 80,000 gallons. That's the gamble commissioners had to think about Thursday when approving a three-month fuel contract for the Public Works department. They locked in a price of roughly $3.55 a gallon for diesel fuel. If fuel prices continue to climb, they'll be getting a good deal. If they fall, they'll kick themselves. Even if the price goes down a nickel a gallon, you're talking a $4,000 difference - a little bit bigger deal than the few cents it costs for our tank.

A lot of people drive a lot of miles to keep our roads and bridges safe. They need fuel to do so. School districts would face the same gamble. School busses drive miles every day so children can get to class. They need fuel to keep going.

It's a big local expense influenced by world events.


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