Elmore Co. Sheriff's Dept. running on empty tanks

WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) - The price of gas keeps on climbing, and driver Shawona Dickerson said it's affecting her habits.

"I'll leave it on 'E' with the gas light on because the prices are so high," she said.

But it's not just gas tanks running on empty.  The skyrocketing gas prices have lots businesses and government agencies digging deeper to pay to fill up their fleets.

The Elmore County Commission, for example, has already burned through their fuel budget for the year. They're not only paying more, they're using more.

Sheriff Bill Franklin said, "We've come very close to spending what we were allotted at the beginning of the year."

While the gas prices are the major factor, response to the April tornadoes and last winter's ice storm meant more patrol cars were needed on the roads.  Not to mention the fact that they're having to cover roughly 40 square miles of police jurisdiction the county inherited from the cash-strapped City of Wetumpka.

"It's a strain," said Elmore County Commissioner Joe Faulk.

Faulk says no one could have predicted the sharp rise in fuel costs or the weather emergencies. Luckily, the county had some cushion room.

"We had to amend our budget for the Sheriff's Department by $120,000 dollars," Faulk said.

That will get them through the fiscal year, which ends in September. Until them, Sheriff Franklin says extra cost cutting measures will be in place.

"It's something that's real, and something we'll have to deal with. And we're going to have to do the best we can with what we've got," Franklin said.

Elmore County Commissioners don't forsee having to increase fuel costs again, at least not this fiscal year.

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