“When the cost of fuel goes up, we can only budget for what we think the cost is going to be . . . and it’s eating up quite a bit of our budget,” he said.
Burbank spent $1.3 million on 400,000 gallons of fuel, mostly unleaded, for its fleet of vehicles, said Paul Herman, purchasing manager for the city.
The city is budgeting for a 20% increase in fuel costs for next fiscal year, he added.
It’s a relative drop in the bucket for a city that spent about $250 million this fiscal year, but rising fuel costs can have an indirect impact on everything from building materials to electricity, effecting a more substantial hit to Burbank’s bottom line, Herman said.
With no end in sight for rising fuel costs, both cities are continuing to push for more fuel-efficient fleets.
While some vehicles, like refuse trucks, which both cities say get about 2.8 mpg, are necessarily large, others can be downsized, city officials said.
Errands between city departments have been consolidated, field positions that don’t require any heavy-duty work get smaller cars, Omessi said.
“We’re just very, very streamlined,” he said. “If we can get someone into a smaller Civic-type vehicle, we’re certainly going to do that.”
Of the roughly 1,200 city-owned vehicles in Glendale, 350 belong to public works — the largest number for a single department.
Many of those vehicles, like refuse trucks and street sweepers, run on diesel, which has doubled in price since last year.
Even with the tax breaks that cities get on fuel purchases, Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn is buying diesel at $4.52 per gallon, far more than the $2.90-per-gallon price for the same period last year, he said.
“We didn’t anticipate that much of an increase,” Zurn said. “It’s really troubling.”
This fiscal year, public works vehicles consumed 400,000 gallons of diesel. At the current diesel price, that’s $1.8 million.
As of Thursday, the average price per gallon of diesel was $5.13, slightly below the record set last week.
The average price for regular-grade unleaded gasoline was $4.61 per gallon, 1 cent below the record, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California.
Matching fuel-efficiency and size with functionality and the demands in the field can be a challenge, with relatively fewer hybrid options on the market, Zurn said.
The Ford Escape, Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrids remain the go-to “green” cars when possible for the two cities, but more heavy-duty options are scarce, city officials said.
“We’re talking to all our drivers about conservation,” Zurn said.