Law agencies see no fuel price impact

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Motorists have enjoyed the lower gas prices they’ve seen over the past month, but that downward trend in fuel prices may be ending as prices have inched up over the past week.

     Fuel prices in Brookhaven are in the $3.15-$3.18 per gallon range Wednesday morning, with prices expected to rise in the near future.

     Prices may have bottomed out for the summer on July 2 as the Mississippi average was at $2.98, but prices are now up to a state average of $3.09.

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     These prices affect consumers and businesses alike, but also have an impact on government, especially law enforcement.

     Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing said his department has not been affected.

     “Prices have not been an issue with us,” he said. “I feel like we’re holding our own.”

     The sheriff’s department operates 20 deputy vehicles and three patrol vehicles are out per shift. Rushing said the total number of department vehicles out at any time varies based on the number of investigators working cases.

     In Brookhaven, Police Chief Pap Henderson said fuel prices have had no impact on the Brookhaven Police Department and its fleet of 18 police cruisers.

     “It has no effect on us,” said Henderson. “We’re still doing our job. We haven’t been told to cut back on anything, and knowing the mayor and the board like I do it won’t happen unless it gets extremely out of hand.”

     City records show BPD has a fuel budget of $150,000 for the current fiscal year.

     Rushing said prices have been a little above where he budgeted them to be, but not high enough to cause alarm.

     “We were running slightly above where we should be counting the high months, but its not affecting us,” he said. “We’re right on about 2 percent more than we should. It’ll probably even out at the end of the budget year.”

     The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has $126,000 budgeted for fuel for this fiscal year, which ends at the end of September. Rushing expects that figure to go up in the next fiscal year.

     “We’ll probably increase what we have budgeted for the next fiscal year, which begins in October,” he said. “That should make it break even.”

     Rushing said he sets his fuel budget on total cost per month, not cost per gallon. He said he first set the budget a few years ago, and it really hasn’t changed much.

     “I first set gas prices a few years ago based on a high month,” said Rushing. “We’ve been pretty much on it for the past few years. It spiked a few months ago, but it’s not going to make or break us.”

     Henderson and Rushing said their jobs were to protect the public, and that’s what they’ll continue to do.

     “We’re in the business where we have to continue to run calls regardless of gas prices,” said Rushing.

     The police chief agreed.

     “We have a job to do and that’s what we’ll continue to do,” said Henderson.