News 12 at 6 o'clock, July 25, 2008
COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga.---You think you're feeling the pain at the pump? Imagine if you had to fill up almost two-hundred cars a day. The Columbia County Sheriff's Office is, and now they're taking new measures to save on gas costs.
The sheriff's office is now having deputies park and turn off their cars for ten minutes each hour, having them save gas, and save money.
Driving around patrolling can cost a lot of money. Columbia County Sheriff's Lieutenant Andy Shedd says the gas prices have hit them hard too. "Unfortunately it's affected us in law enforcement as well as everybody in America. We're feeling the same crunch that everybody else does," says Lt. Shedd.
That crunch has hit their budget the hardest. This year they exceeded their $500,000 fuel budget by $87,000. In order to keep it out of the red for the 08-09 fiscal year, they've increased their budget to $700,000.
But no matter how much it costs, they are still doing everything they can to enforce the law. "We're on the clock. We're still looking to detect crime and we still respond to calls for service if needed," says Lt. Shedd.
To help save fuel, deputies are parking...and un-cranking. Not using their cars for ten minutes each hour. "We're hoping that will help us with our budget," says Lt. Shedd.
With temperatures in the upper 90's, it can be pretty hot just sitting in the car, that's why they've teamed up with the community to help combat the heat. "We'll park the cars, turn the cars off and then go into these substations which could be a convenience store, a small business, or maybe even a large business here in Columbia County. So that way we can save gas and also get some production out of the deputies," Lt. Shedd says.
When these deputies are averaging a tank of gas a day, cutting back just makes cents.
Deputies in Columbia County work on twelve-hour shifts. So if they take ten minutes an hour, every hour, they should be sitting and saving for two hours every day.
It's a little too early for them to tell how much money is saved each day. They're hoping to have results after the first quarter ends in November.
The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is also spending a lot of money on gas this year. Colonel Gary Powell says they budgeted almost $1.7 million for has in the 2007-2008 budget. So far this year, they're over that by $25,000. And Colonel Powell says the sheriff's office expects to spend an extra $150,000 on fuel by the end of the year.