City awards fuel contract

Published 7:43 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The City of Bainbridge has awarded a local company a lucrative contract to fuel its large fleet of vehicles.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Bainbridge City Council awarded a bid to supply its annual need for approximately 260,000 gallons of fuel to Southwest Georgia Oil Company of Bainbridge.

Southwest Georgia Oil is known locally for its Inland brand of fuels and its former ownership of several convenience stores in Bainbridge.

The City Council chose Southwest Georgia Oil’s bid to supply fuel at a 5-cent markup over its cost. Suppliers’ rack price is at times significantly less than the retail price, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Pantry, Inc., a North Carolina based company submitted a bid with an identical cost per gallon as Inland’s bid. However, the council followed City Manager Chris Hobby’s recommendation to choose Southwest Georgia Oil due to the city’s positive history of dealing with the company.

Mayor Mark Harrell excused himself from the council chambers during consideration of the bid. The mayor is a former executive with Southwest Georgia Oil and his brother, Mike, is the CEO of the company their father began.

According to the city’s request for bids, the municipal government owns about 199 vehicles and equipment that use gasoline and approximately 85 vehicles and pieces of equipment that use diesel fuel.

Southwest Georgia Oil will allow the city to fuel up at two locations that use Inland-branded fuel, one on Georgia 97 South and another on East Shotwell Street in downtown Bainbridge. To satisfy the city’s requirement that fuel be available 24 hours a day, in order for police cars and other emergency vehicles to re-fuel, Southwest Georgia Oil plans to re-open an old gas station at the intersection of Broad and Calhoun streets, Hobby said. However, the station could only be used by fleet customers with special cards.

The Pantry would have allowed the city to fuel up at four of its Kangaroo-branded convenience stores, three of which are open 24 hours a day. The Pantry purchased the four stores from Southwest Georgia Oil in December 2006.