Rocklin cuts fuel consumption as prices continue to rise

City's cost-saving measures add up
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald correspondent
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Rocklin fuel consumption

Usage based on fiscal year

2012: 88,241 gallons

2011: 91,474 gallons

2010: 95,079 gallons

Source: City of Rocklin

As California gas prices flirt with the highest recorded average for the state, the city of Rocklin has been able to weather the price volatility by reducing its fuel expenses during the recession.

“The city has made significant strides in efficiencies and continues to look for savings throughout the city,” said Mayor Diana Ruslin.

The city currently maintains a total of 146 vehicles, of which 80 are considered Public Safety vehicles. The others are used for park maintenance staff, fleet support and official use by authorized personnel.

“The police are out there patrolling and they are not cutting back,” said Rocklin Public Affairs Manager Karen Garner. “The street guys are out there just as much as they were before.”

The city has capacity to use fuel. It operates two 12,000-gallon aboveground fuel tanks at the corporation yard off Delmar Avenue, so city staff, including fire personnel, have access 24/7. One has regular gasoline; the other tank contains diesel. Department heads also get fuel credit cards to be used if the city’s fuel supply is not available.

“The city tracks fuel usage by vehicle, not by person,” Garner said.

Despite access, Garner said, the total fuel consumption has been going down.

For fiscal year 2012, the city used 88,241 gallons compared to 2011’s 91,474 gallons and 2010’s 95,079 gallons. With the amount of fuel it goes through, the city can get the best prices by competitive bid.

“We’re trying to get the best deal on fuel prices,” Garner explained.

The highest recorded national average for regular gas reached $4.11 in July 2008, according to AAA. California’s highest recorded average was higher, topping $4.67 in October of last year.

The Placer Herald reviewed city fuel invoices and found as retail gas was surging after record highs in October, the city was paying $3.09 a gallon for November 2012, $2.83 in December 2012 and $2.95 a gallon for regular in January 2013. They were also buying between 8,389 and 8,682 gallons of discounted gasoline a month.

Right now in Sacramento, AAA reports $4.05 to $4.10 per gallon for regular gasoline over the last week. According to the city, the average diesel delivery is 7,600 gallons.

The city puts the fuel buys out to competitive bid and, according to its policy manual it “is the (fleet) department’s goal to receive the lowest possible price for the same quality type fuel.”

Each employee is required to ensure maximum energy conservation and unattended vehicles “should not be left running,” according to policy documents.

“All city employees using a city motor vehicle or equipment piece will practice energy-saving measures to the fullest,” it reads in part.

Some employees are not in the car as much as before. For example, a member of the fleet staff now works out of the police headquarters in-stead of the corporation yard two miles away to cut down on the amount of trips usually taken when public safety vehicles need service. Garner explained the city has other strategies, too.

“It’s not so much the price of fuel other than less employees using the vehicle,” Garner said. “We’re purchasing more fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Ever-increasing prices at the pump are starting to waver for the first time this year and now industry watchers like the Lundberg Survey point to easing crude oil prices and refiners increasing capacity for the spring and summer driving seasons. Even as the city weathers the price volatility with its own methods, average Rocklin drivers may soon be getting relief from the pain at the pump in the coming weeks, according to Lundberg.