Warren County looks at buying fuel elsewhere|[9/19/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Warren County will also explore buying fuel outside Vicksburg, mirroring a similar decision by the Vicksburg Warren School District earlier this month.

Monday, the board voted to see bids to have two fuel storage tanks built for the Road Department at the county barn off U.S. 61 North.

School board members are seeking a 12,000-gallon diesel tank for its bus maintenance facility on Mississippi 27. The district’s bus fleet is all diesel and consumes about 6,000 gallons per week.

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For most of the year, a retail price differential between gas and diesel prices in other area communities, larger and smaller, has been a dime a gallon or wider.

Schools and governments are exempt from all taxes on fuel, but might be able to save substantially by ordering from bulk sellers elsewhere.

Warren County first mentioned installing tanks in the Road Department’s budget request for the coming fiscal year, but the idea of a reserve fuel supply gained traction when school trustees acted.

The Road Department’s plan is to have one tank for diesel and one for gasoline. Each would hold reserve fuel for the department’s 51 trucks and other fuel-operated equipment.

Warren County formerly operated tanks at the jail and at the county road office when it was on Mississippi 27. Both were removed when new federal regulation required strict monitoring for leaks. Above-ground tanks are subject to a different set of standards.

Specifics as to how the fuel would be used over time haven’t been worked out yet, but when throwing his support behind the idea to supervisors, Road Manager Richard Winans said it would be wise for the county’s reserve fuel to be separate from the school district’s.

&#8220It would behoove the county to have its own lines,” Road Manager Richard Winans said when he pitched his support to the idea, adding that the tanks could be accessed by the sheriff’s department and the county’s volunteer fire departments.

Currently, county employees use the Fuelman Fleet Card purchasing system, as does the school district. That means they pay local retail prices, less taxes and a fleet discount.

But increases to the price of diesel and gasoline were expected to run the Road Department alone about $100,000 more than last fiscal year. Overall, the county will spend $3.9 million funding the department in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, an increase of more than $236,000.

As with the school district’s plan, fuel would likely be purchased in bulk to maximize the plan’s efficiency. Bids for the Road Department’s tanks would not come in until advertisements run, while bids for the school district’s project will be opened at the next meeting of the Board of Trustees on Sept. 28.

In other road-related business, the board awarded the second contract of the 2006 Paving Project to Central Asphalt of Vicksburg, which had the lowest bid of $735,087.79. A bid to pave 11 roads in the project’s first phase was awarded to APAC Mississippi in July.

Sections of road to be paved in the second phase are included 1.3 miles of Dudley Road from the end of current pavement to Fisher Ferry Road, about a mile of Halls Ferry Road from Nailor Road to Fonsylvania Road and smaller stretches of Laura Lake Road, Bobbie Place, Laura Lake Circle, Barrow Lane, South Park Drive, Still Drive, Fairview Drive, Drake Road and Bradford Drive through the end of county maintenance.

Also, the board gave the OK to request state funds to paint lane striping along sections of 27 roads.

They include LeTourneau, Old Highway 27, Rawhide, Chickasaw, Nine Mile Cut Off, Bovina Cutoff, Tucker, Boy Scout, Mount Alban, Eagle Lake Shore, two sections of Freetown, Hankinson, Glass, Ballground, Redbone, Redwood, China Grove, Jeff Davis, Lee, Tiffentown, Grange Hall, Halls Ferry, Fisher Ferry and Oak Ridge Road, Warriors Trail and Sherman Avenue.

Funding for the project is subject to review by Mississippi Department of Transportation’s Office of State Aid Road Construction.

In other business, the board: