County discusses financial impact of using fuel cards

Published 7:11 pm Thursday, October 10, 2019

For years, any county vehicle that needed fuel had to drive to Hamilton Road, and county officials were forced to rely on an ink and paper record of how much fuel each vehicle used. 

However, that system changed in March, when Troup County decided to move to fuel cards.

On Thursday, the Troup County Board of Commissioners received an update on the fuel card system, which county staff estimates may save thousands of dollars each year based on time spent traveling to the fuel center and back alone. The move to the fuel cards also made it so the county didn’t have to replace the aging gas tanks at its fueling site on Hamilton Road, which would’ve cost at least $500,000, according to figures presented in March. 

“We have about 1,500 transactions a month, and at just $20 an hour savings, that would be about $90,000 that we would save,” County Finance Officer Buddy Cashwell said. “I had estimated $74,000, so we are going to hit that mark easily.”

Cashwell said that the fuel cost was roughly $0.18 a gallon more retail versus wholesale, so the additional fuel cost would be made up for in time savings. He also said that employees who responded to an email on the subject said that they had a positive experience with the fuel card program.

County employee spending on fuel cards is reviewed by their department manager, and according to information shared during the meeting, using fuel cards instead of the old system has resulted in less unaccounted for fuel.

“It was a real issue when I first got here,” County Manager Eric Mosley said. “If there was some kind of missing fuel that may come up, we basically just had to take it and split the cost among the three highest users — the fire department, the sheriff’s office and road department. Now, there is no question. It is down to the penny of who is using what. There is no missing fuel anymore, which is great.”

Cashwell noted that there was some variance in type and cost of fuel used due to changing fuel requirements for certain vehicles, making an exact side by side comparison difficult.

Positive effects of the program outside of cost savings were also noted during the meeting.

“We’ve had better rates for public safety because they aren’t having to spend so much time going back and forth to Hamilton Road to fill up,” Mosley said. “Obviously, that is a good, central location, but if you are in a car, you’ve really got to think about that all the time. The guys on the interstate, they have been able to do a lot more work because we are not having to stay so close to Hamilton Road.”

Commissioner Morris Jones asked if the county was still buying off-road diesel wholesale, and Mosley said that while it is purchased that way for some departments, the county could look into doing so for other departments. The county does not pay sales tax on fuel purchases.

Troup County will still be required to excavate the old fuel tanks.

Other items covered during Thursday’s meeting included:

  • The Troup County Board of Commissioners heard an overview of changes to county retirement services. According to Mosley, the change will only impact past employees who retired up to 2013, and he said the updated plan would be an improvement on the current plan.
  • The board of commissioners heard a request from the county sanitation department to lift the hiring freeze, and there was brief discussion on leaving a position posted on the county website even after it is filled due to the frequency of hiring needs.
  • Troup County Accountability Courts Coordinator Denise Smith requested permission to submit a supplemental grant application for Fiscal Year 2020. If the court receives the grant, it would be used for additional drug testing and hiring an additional assessor to meet the needs of the growing accountability courts. Smith said that matching funds would come from the DATE Fund.
  • The board of commissioners also reviewed the agenda for Tuesday, which will include two rezoning applications.