City of Toledo struggles with fuel costs

Reported by Rob Wiercinski -- email

Posted by Kate Oatis -- email

TOLEDO -- Due to the higher prices, the City of Toledo's gas budget for the year will soon dry up. That's putting city administrators on financial watch, and the mayor is trying to come up with new ways to lower the amount of gas consumed by city vehicles.

The city's fleet continues to roll, and each of the 2,000 vehicles continue to need a routine fill-up. Indeed, higher prices are taking a big bite out of this year's $3.5 million city fuel budget.

"We're probably going to be well over $1 million. We're going to run out of that budget we estimate somewhere around late August or September," says Commissioner of City Fleet Operations Ken Neidert.

Last year, the city bought gas at an average of $2.56 per gallon; this year it's up to a whopping $3.84. Conservation measures by the city, including a "no idling" policy, are helping to lower fuel usage, but the mayor says much more has to be done to curb the use of city vehicles.

"We've gone to a couple of work sites and seen four or five vehicles and only five or six workers. We think there's an opportunity to team up in some of the vehicles. It is a serious issue," says Mayor Carty Finkbeiner.

Rising fuel expenses will put a strain on the city's general fund budget, and the mayor says that will force administrators to keep a close tab on overall spending.

"We will have to take a hard look at such a dramatic increase. Clearly that will have an impact on what we had budgeted for the year," the mayor says. "The goal is to make sure the public isn't affected."

"We don't want to cut back on any city services, so we have to conserve as much as we can, and still put it out there," Neidert says.