Gas Prices Draining City and School Budgets

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

Gas prices are higher than ever. 

In the Permian Basin, it's almost $4.00 per gallon.  

City and school managers say the rising cost is forcing them to re-direct their money.

"The projected overrun this year is in the $800,000 range," Mark Phillips, Director of Facilities and Fleet Management in Midland, said. "Next year, it's in the million dollar range."

It's a common tale, budgets are changing along with the climbing gas prices.

"We're like everybody else, we're like the consumers here," Phillips said. "We have to find the money to fuel these vehicles."

"In particular with all these fires we've had here, we have to employ all of our equipment out there, they use a lot of fuel," Phillips said.

Local schools are trying to keep from hitting the "E" mark too.

"We're having to bit the bullet like other school districts and government entities, and are constantly looking for ways to run as efficiently as possible," David Morris, Director of Transportation at E.C.I.S.D., said. "We've had to make some budget adjustments, and some bigger adjustments coming in next year's budget."

This school year, E.C.I.S.D. made a $56,000 adjustment, borrowing money out of the general budget to help the fuel budget.

"It's tough on districts throughout the State," Morris said.

The total fuel budget for next year is $1.7 million, up $600,000 from the previous year.

"It's a big change for the district, because that's money that could have been used for other things, maybe to buy computers or something like that," Morris said. "So none of us are happy that we have to put out this extra money for fuel, but to get the kids to and from school it's going to be a necessity."

At this point, the city doesn't plan to raise taxes.

They are hoping to increase the size of the two city pumps in order to get a bigger discount on bulk gasoline.

Right now, they are discussing next year's budget and trying to juggle the funds in order to pay for fuel.