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Commissioners discuss gas costs

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Like many residents, the Clay County Commissioners are trying to figure out how to combat rising fuel costs.

The commissioners met in a special meeting Tuesday morning to listen to concerns and attempt to find possible solutions.

Clay County Sheriff Mike Heaton addressed the commissioners, informing them that the Clay County Sheriff's Department has gone through a little more than half of their fuel budget for 2008.

"When we submitted our proposed budget back in August, gas was about $2.60 a gallon," Heaton said. "We planned ahead for an increase in gas prices, but I don't think anyone expected this big of a jump so soon."

Heaton said with gas at $4 a gallon right now, the department will probably begin to fall short on their fuel budget in September.

"However, if prices continue to rise, our budget will last an even shorter amount of time," he said. "We have made some modifications to our response to calls, but we are in no way neglecting the public."

The commissioners discussed potential ways of combating the ever-rising cost of gas, but were unable to find any clear solutions during the meeting.

"Gas has never been this high before and some are predicting it to get up to five or six dollars a gallon," Commissioner Paul Sinders said. "We may be in a position where we have no choice and have to do something we never have before."

While the commissioners we not able to find a feasible solution, Heaton said his department is already working to cut back on fuel usage.

"We always have made the deputies pay for gas they use when off-duty," he said. "But we have started to have two men in a vehicle to help save a little bit."

The commissioners will now look into other alternatives, such as trying to find special deals at gas stations, and will hold a work session on June 5, at 10 a.m., to discuss their findings.

They also opened quotes to replace Bridge 121, which is on Lower Bloomington Road, with a tank car.

BLS Contractors, Bowling Green, had the lowest quote at $56,900, which the commissioners accepted subject to legal approval from Commissioners' Attorney Eric Somheil.

Since the replacement is considered a public works project, they have to review the laws to ensure the price cap level allows them to accept quotes. If the cost is above the cap, the process will have to be restarted for bids, not quotes, to be submitted.

The next regular meeting of the Clay County Commissioners will be Monday, June 9, at 9 a.m., in the Commissioners' Court of the Clay County Courthouse.


Comments
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Yes this gas thing is killing all of us. It is cutting in to everyones budget and it doesnt sound like its going to get any better. I guess we will have to get some officers on bikes like you see on cops. I know i might have to start using my bike if prices go much higher. No one is going to be able to afford it and make ends meet. Its actually a little scary.

-- Posted by jjen1212 on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 1:34 AM

How about if officers buy their own personal cars and park the squad cars when they are not on duty? Even if they pay for off duty gas, which I'm sure is very hard to determine how much is actually used on and off duty, what about the wear and tear on them? Does your boss supply you with a vehicle to use when you aren't at work. Or does he pay for maintenance, such as oil changes, tires, etc.?

-- Posted by Icareaboutbrazil on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 7:19 AM

Isn't part of an officers salary their take home car. So they stop taking their car home, then we need to raise their salary. Its just a trade in money the way I see it.

-- Posted by Firedad on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 8:28 AM

It would be difficult for an officer on a bike to make it from Jasonville to the Northern part of the county. I would hate to be the person waiting for them to show up. Since an officer is always on call, even when they are off and out on personal business, would we want to wait while they went home and changed cars? Or perhaps we could pay them mileage? That would be about the same. They also make less than a beginning teacher, and I have no problem with raising their salary the amount of money it is worth to have them on call 24/7.

-- Posted by faraway on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 8:45 AM

"Isn't part of an officers salary their take home car. So they stop taking their car home, then we need to raise their salary. Its just a trade in money the way I see it."

No it's not. It's just a job benefit. And they are supposed to claim some of that benefit on their income tax. Clay County cars should be kept in Clay County, not driving their family to an adjacent county restuarant.

-- Posted by Matt Dillion on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 10:18 AM

I think we need to start reorganizing our city transportation. First, a large parking lot needed for cars to park.

Get into a city bus which goes around town. Fee: 1.oo or more.

Or purchase a fleet of golf carts for all to drive around the city to shop.

We need to green up. That way we need less police cars for intercity. Let them buy a horse.

-- Posted by Pearl2083 on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 1:50 PM

Officers don't have to claim anything on their income tax relating to their off duty use of their take home cars. A great number of Police Department's and nearly all of the Sheriff's Departments in Indiana allow their officers to use their vehicles off duty, and the Indiana State Police allow their officers to drive their cars state wide when off duty.

The off duty use of the car is something that officers take into consideration when taking a law enforcement job, the money saved by not having to purchase an additional vehicle allows some officers to start working a job where the salary is not otherwise competitive. The off duty use of a squad car might not be considered a part of their salary but it is considered a benefit just like a pension or insurance. If you start taking those benefits away, you had better be prepared to replace them with something else of equal value or be prepared to begin loosing more quality officers to private industry or to more progressive departments.

I'm sure most officers would agree to take a raise in pay and park their squad cars at the police station when not working. The people who would suffer are the citizens who will get reduced service because an officer is not able to respond to a call from home or take action when they are in their car off duty and witness a crime, which is a frequent occurrence.

-- Posted by snow on Wed, May 28, 2008, at 10:33 PM


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