In light of recent gasoline shortages and the rising cost of fuel, Bulloch County leaders are making efforts to conserve.
Wednesday, Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn shared an e-mail from Georgia Emergency Management Agency Assistant Director of Operations Joe T. McKinney with county department heads regarding the fuel shortage issue caused by damages to refineries by Hurricane Ike.
"Many public safety entities have expressed concerns about continued supplies," McKinney wrote. "The current situation is highly variable but the consensus is that the supply problem is improving. Crude oil production in the impacted Gulf regions is still under 20 percent of normal, but is improving."
He said many refineries damaged by Ike and Hurricane Gustav are getting back on online, but it is taking time.
"The agencies are in constant contact with suppliers, and are attempting to get the Federal EPA to waive certain fuel standards to allow the use of non-seasonal fuel formulations," he said in the letter. "The Governor's State of Emergency concerning fuel is still in effect to combat price gouging, and a Governor's Executive Order is in effect to allow oversize and overweight fuel trucks to travel our roads and extend the work hours operators can drive the delivery trucks."
Wynn said the county has a plan in place in case there is a gas shortage, and said all county employees have been instructed to follow conservative guidelines to reduce the use of fuel.
Emergency vehicles take top priority should fuel be rationed, he said. If nothing else, emergency response vehicles will be fueled to ensure citizen's safety.
First to be cut from the list should rationing occur would be non-county owned vehicles; followed by vehicles used for county use that are taken home at night by employees. Administrative vehicles would come next, with operational (maintenance, etc.) vehicles coming in second behind emergency vehicles, he said.
Although gasoline has not yet been difficult to obtain, measures have been taken to conserve fuel and save money, Wynn said.
"All department directors are expected to eliminate unnecessary trips," he said.
County employees have been instructed to drive under the speed limit, keep tires inflated, and plan travel in advance, combining errands if possible, he said.
Keeping vehicles services and avoiding unnecessary idling are also tips that citizens may find useful in cutting down expenses, he said.
"I think they're good measures," he said.
Wynn's suggestions echo those of Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who "has encouraged Georgians to help lessen the fuel supply impacts by reducing unnecessary travel, car-pooling and using mass transit, telecommuting, driving a little slower, and perhaps most importantly, fueling only when low on gas so that stations can have time to resupply their storage tanks," McKinney said in his letter.
He also suggested county leaders " .... should stay in contact with your contracted fuel provider as to fuel availability for your fleet."
Wynn said Bulloch County has a "good relationship with our vendors" and bids fuel in bulk.
He said most shortages of gasoline in Georgia have been in "North Georgia and Valdosta."