County installing new fuel system

Published 10:53 am Friday, October 12, 2012

A new fueling system is being installed in Decatur County, and commissioners hope it will limit waste and fraud, and save the county money on fuel.

At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Decatur County Board of Commissioners, Andrew Phillips, of MST Construction in Havana, Fla., told the commissioners about the new fueling system. The system was originally approved by the county in December 2011, and costs $70,879. A total of $50,000 was originally budgeted for the system, but then-County Finance Director Carl Rowland said the county would save enough on fuel in the long run to make up that difference.

The new Fuel Master system includes several features that will allow the county’s administrative staff to keep better records on how much fuel is used by county vehicles. When a county employee needs to dispense fuel for a vehicle, that employee will have to insert a specific key that is assigned to only one particular county vehicle. In addition, each county employee will be assigned a specific code, and will only be able to dispense fuel after entering that correct code, Phillips said.

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“This way, you’ll be able to identify which vehicle is being fueled, and which individual is doing the fueling,” Phillips said.

The new fuel dispensing equipment will be installed permanently at the Airport Road public works headquarters, and also at the Decatur County Solid Waste Facility. Equipment will also be installed on two mobile trucks, allowing any vehicle in the field to be quickly re-fueled in case of an emergency.

Phillips said that the system can be programmed to produce a variety of reports, ranging from amount of fuel per vehicle, to amount of fuel per employee, and even as detailed as mileage-per-gallon for each vehicle.

“If you want a report that’s not already in the system, then Fuel Master will be able to create it for you,” Phillips said.

Commissioner Dr. Earl Perry said that the county has needed an updated fuel management system for many years.

“This is my 10th year as a commissioner, and we’ve had problems with fuel theft for all this time,” he said. “I’m very pleased to have this system finally go into operation.”

Phillips explained that theft will be dimished, for several reasons. First, employees will only be able to dispense fuel into specific vehicles, thanks to the key required. Second, if a county employee takes a county vehicle home and tries to siphon the fuel into a personal vehicle, there will be a “red flag” that administrators see because the Fuel Master system will show that not enough miles have been traveled for the amount of fuel dispensed.

County Administrator Gary Breedlove not-so-subtly recommended that any county employees who have been taking advantage of fuel privileges would be wise to clean up their act.

“It might be a good idea to start working on behavioral modifications now, before the system is completely in place,” he said.

Commissioner Dr. David C. Mosely also made the suggestion that employees could increase mileage and fuel economy by slowing down when on the job.

“If you’re running 55 mph, you’re going to get a lot more to the gallon than if you’re running up and down the road doing 70,” he said. “If we had some of our supervisors issue an edict that you should only drive 55 mph when you’re out on the road, unless it’s an emergency, then there’s no telling how much fuel we could save.”

Breedlove also said that the new pumping system will dispense six-gallons-a-minute, while the old system only dispensed a gallon-a-minute. When the system is completely cleaned later this year, that dispensing rate could increase even further, he said.