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August 21, 2013

Fuel costs fuel county budget talks

Too many commute with county vehicles, commissioner says

By JUDY SHERIDAN

Precinct No. 4 Commissioner Dusty Renfro kicked off FY 2013-14 Parker County budget discussions this week by saying too many county employees commute using county vehicles, increasing vehicle and fuel costs. Renfro also challenged the equity of the Road & Bridge Fund formula that determines how much revenue each precinct receives.

“One thing I think we need to focus on a little bit during this county budget session is the take-home vehicles county-wide,” he said. “We’ve got way too many people driving county vehicles to and from work that maybe live in another county or are just driving long distances. We need to limit that as much as possible.”

“What we have now is maybe some people taking vehicles out who are not on the approved list,” Riley responded. “We’ll send that out and update that and deal with that as soon as possible.”

Renfro said later that the county’s fuel costs are greater than $1 million annually.

As many as half of those commuting with county vehicles probably don’t need to do so, he said. Making a change could result in significant savings.

Even when commuting with a county vehicle is necessary, Renfro said, some employees drive a truck instead of a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

Riley said the county spends $1.3 million annually for fuel, oil changes, air filters and vehicle inspections. The Road and Bridge Fund is responsible for $800,000, he said, while the sheriff’s office, another heavy fuel consumer, spends about $300,000.

The commissioner also questioned the fairness of the Road & Bridge budget formula.

“I know that most of it is based on road mileage, and it doesn’t take into consideration traffic counts,” he said.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of people in Precinct No. 4 asking questions on why Precinct No. 4 pays in the most taxes and receives the least amount back for road maintenance.

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