City should stick with Fuel Man

Published 12:01 am Sunday, March 27, 2011

The City of Vicksburg is wrestling with a plan to change fuel providers for the city’s vehicle fleet. The competing bids are from Fuel Man and The Pantry Inc.

Each bid has its merits.

Fuel Man is an established provider, having serviced the city for more than 20 years at 29 sites in the city. Fuel Man also contracts with the state, meaning Fuel Man stations are readily available throughout the state.

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The Pantry, which operates nine Kangaroo stores mostly along Interstate 20 and U.S. 61 South, has about 1/3 of the options for fueling as Fuel Man. The Pantry, though, has offered the city a contract that on the face is more than $8,000 lower than Fuel Man’s.

On Monday, the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Alderman voted to table the decision until April 4. The current Fuel Man contract expires on June 30.

On the surface, and in the middle of an nationwide economic malaise, saving actual dollars would seem like the right move. But that $8,000 in savings could easily be negated due to the lack of available filling stations and the inconvenience city employees might face in trying to get to Kangaroo stations.

At the current gas prices, it won’t take long for that initial $8,000 savings to be eaten up by extra driving miles if city employees are forced to get to one of nine Kangaroo stations.

Vicksburg and Fuel Man have had a 20-year relationship that does not appear to be broken. The allure of monetary savings is strong, but, as Vicksburg Purchasing Director Tim Smith asked at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, “Is it worth the savings to the city?”

No, it is not.