City, county, BOE feeling pinch at the pumps

Published 3:22 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

By By Adrienne McKenzie
For many area residents traveling out of town may take a toll on their pocketbooks with gas prices on the rise, but personal travel is not the only thing affected by the continuous increase in fuel.
The city of Atmore allots a budget for the different departments and most have used more than half the money allotted or have gone over budget as of March 31, which marked the halfway point in the current fiscal year.
The Atmore Fire Department was budgeted $60,000 and spent $38,000 halfway through the fiscal year. The street department was given a budget of $52,000 and spent $29,200. The police department was allotted $58,000 and spent $35,000. Building inspections were budgeted $2,500 and spent $5,124. The parks department were allotted $2,500 for mowing, vehicles, weed eaters, upkeep, etc., and spent $5,124. The mayor was budgeted $1,000 and spent $425. The beautification department was allocated $3,500 and spent $6,600.
Shell said the city does not want to cut back on the number of patrols the police department carries out. Also, it is impossible for the fire department to cut back on the amount of fuel it uses because it is an emergency response unit.
Planning for the possible fuel price increases during budget hearings for Escambia County has saved a lot of headaches in current expenditures.
Not only do the gasoline prices affect the city and county vehicles, they are also a big factor in the budget of school systems. Randall Little, who is in charge of transportation for Escambia County, said things are looking OK for the system at this point in the fiscal year.
With the low mileage per gallon used by school busses across the county, some changes may be made in the amount of school-related travel, Little said.
The current fiscal year for county and school systems will end Sept. 30.
Lydia Grimes contributed to this article.