Nevada’s gasoline coffers near E

CARSON CITY — With three months left in the fiscal year, the state of Nevada has spent all but $1.3 million of its $10 million total budget for gasoline and diesel, officials said.

The biggest user is the Nevada Department of Transportation, whose fuel costs now are expected to reach about $6.3 million, some $1.7 million more than the budgeted amount.

“Right now that ($6.3 million) is probably a low estimate because diesel and everything is shooting through the roof. We still have April, May and June to go,” Robert Chisel, administrative services officer for NDOT, told the Nevada Appeal.

Of that total, Chisel said $4.3 million is for diesel to run NDOT’s trucks, graders, snowplows and other large maintenance equipment.

He said the state also may get hit by contractors because some construction contracts have fuel cost escalation clauses.

But, NDOT depends on the highway fund to pay those costs, so fuel prices won’t add to the burden on the state’s general fund, said state Director of Administration Andrew Clinger.

NDOT officials are expected to ask the Interim Finance Committee for a transfer of highway fund money to cover the amount needed.

The second largest user of fuel is the Nevada Highway Patrol, which budgeted $1.9 million for such costs this year.

“We’ll probably be within $25,000 to $30,000 of the costs but I think we’re going to make it,” NHP Col. Chris Perry said.

Unfortunately, he said, NHP vehicles average only 14 miles per gallon. Troopers in urban areas log more than 25,000 miles a year while their rural counterparts may put in 45,000 miles a year.

Keith Wells, administrator of the state’s motor pool, said he’s seeking to move about $200,000 out of his reserves to cover a projected $1 million fuel cost, nearly $250,000 above the budgeted amount.

Wells said his office is encouraging state workers to carpool to meetings as much as possible, and is buying some natural gas and hybrid vehicles.

“We aggressively cut costs on everything we do,” Wells said.

Clinger said his staff will be looking at agencies to determine whether some of those assigned vehicles are necessary.

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