Gas Prices Saving Law Enforcement Agencies Thousands In Fuel Costs

As gas prices continue to drop across Kansas, some area law enforcement agencies are reaping the benefits. Not many expected gas prices to be nearing one dollar, so when many police departments or sheriffs offices set their budgets for the year, they over-estimated how much theyd spend on gas. Now, theyre saving thousands. In Valley Center, the police department uses its own gas pumps to fill up. Its fuel the city buys every few months, based on market price. When we work out our budget we work it up almost a year in advance and so we have to do the best guess we can of what gas prices are going to be and then we live with it the next year, explained Chief of Police in Valley Center, Mark Hephner. Living with it this past year has been a breeze. As gas prices go lower, the departments savings have gone higher. Weve been in positions where gas prices have gone up higher than what weve budgeted and then we have to deal with that, Chief Hephner said. Now were the other side of the coin and weve budgeted more than what gas prices have been. The Butler County Sheriffs Office found itself in a similar situation. It has already tallied how much it saved on gas in 2015. Sheriff Kelly Herzet said in last years budget, the estimated they would spend about $3.50 a gallon on gas. As prices dropped, the sheriffs office ended up saving about $88,000 on fuel and lubricant costs. That money goes back into the general fund or is used to purchase new fleet vehicles. Valley Center officials dont have an official total for how much their department has saved yet, but they say its significant. They say it makes watching their bottom line, and doing their jobs, a little bit easier. There were a couple years where we were going over our budgeted amount so things like having to watch how many miles were driving and those kind of things were more critical then, Chief Hephner said. And now were not as concerned about that and we can pretty much patrol as needed. Sedgwick County officials said it, too, has saved money because of the lower gas prices. But, some cities and school districts have a locked in gas rate they pay all year, even if gas prices fluctuate. Officials with the City of Wichita and Andover School District both said theyre looking at renewing their lock in rates at some of the prices were seeing now, so they too can hopefully save some money this next year.