Rochelle News-Leader | City of La Rochelle services face soaring fuel prices

ROCHELLE – With vehicles in its Rochelle Police, Fire, Street and Municipal Utilities Departments, the City of Rochelle has been feeling the effects of recent high fuel prices, City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh said May 18. .

“We have to drive,” Fiegenschuh said. “We cannot tell our police officers not to patrol. The street service still has to fix potholes and do other things like prune trees. The electrical service still has to drive and deal with power outages.

When the city set its budget for this year, it had already started to see fuel price increases, so it budgeted accordingly, Fiegenschuh said. But if fuel prices continue to rise, cuts may need to be made in other areas to offset those costs. The city manager said he had conversations with departments about fuel reduction strategies, such as not letting vehicles idle. The idea of ​​one day bicycle patrols for the Public Security of La Rochelle has even been mentioned.

“You just have to think outside the box,” Fiegenschuh said. “What can we do if these prices remain high in the long term? Are there things that can be done in certain departments to continue to provide the service without necessarily having cuts? We have seen an increase, but we are in a service industry and people expect to be served by the city because they pay taxes. We must therefore continue to provide this service.”

The city has contracts with two different companies to buy fuel after launching tenders several years ago. One is Benny’s Corner Market and the other brings diesel fuel to a tank from the City Street Service. The establishment of fuel contracts has not immunized the city against rising prices. It pays a fixed price above what contractors pay. As prices increase, the city pays the increase noted by the supplier.

Fiegenschuh said in the future he would like to see a centralized gas station in the city’s new building, the former Johnson Tractor facility on South 7th Street that she purchased last year. All city services would use a tank at the location that would receive fuel deliveries.

The city’s most fuel-intensive departments are likely its police and street crews, Fiegenschuh said. All police vehicles use gasoline and most street vehicles use gasoline. Heavier equipment like bucket trucks use diesel fuel.

“If you’ve seen diesel prices, holy cow,” Fiegenschuh said. “But we have a job to do. And we have to provide that service. One good thing we’ve seen that helps is that our incomes go up with inflation and the economy is still good overall. »

One of the non-vehicular uses of fuel that has and will have an impact on the city this summer is its RMU generating plant which uses diesel fuel. When it experiences warmer days with peak electricity consumption, the city generates its own electricity so that it does not have to pay more to its electricity supplier and pass these costs on to residents’ RMU bills.

The generation was already carried out in May when temperatures of 90 degrees were observed over a week.

“Even with the increase in diesel prices, when we produce it, we still save on the electricity side, because we reduce our capacity loads and that saves us all year round,” Fiegenschuh said. “Maybe we’re saving $1 million instead of $2 million, but we’re still saving our customers money and that’s our goal.”

City departments have been informed that the aim is to ensure that each of them comes in at or below the budgets approved by the City Council.

“If we have to cut back, we will do it in other areas to offset fuel price increases,” Fiegenschuh said. “We will have to be inventive going forward because I think rising fuel prices are here to stay.” .”