‘We’ve had to find creative solutions,’ Fire Department, Sheriff’s Office respond to gas inflation

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 7, 2022

BY MAIA BRONFMAN

NATCHEZ: The budget for the Adams County Sheriff’s office is set on Oct. 1 every year. That means the inflated gas prices, which began around April, are not covered in this year’s budget, said Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten.

“We were planning for the budgeted amounts and ended up needing much larger amounts,” Patten said, “so we had to cut back on purchases of other vital items.”

Email newsletter signup

Money that might have gone to clothing, training, events or travel went toward gasoline.

Natchez Fire Chief Robert Arrington said his department, too, is spending more than planned for fuel and is cutting back on line items like uniforms.

Firetrucks run on large amounts of diesel, so along with cutting line items, the department has limited its driver training to conserve fuel, Arrington said.

Firefighters are limiting the amount they leave the station, and shutting engines off when they enter stores.

“Little things to conserve costs,” Arrington said.

Gas price inflation causes shipping times to increase, too, Arrington said. Repair parts that might have taken a week to arrive are now delayed a month.

The part needed to fix their cascade system, Arrington said, temporarily is being borrowed from the Vidalia Fire District.

“We’ve had to find creative solutions. It’s our job to make it work,” Arrington said, until the City Clerk is able to readjust their budget.

For the next fiscal year, Patten said the county is planning for a budget adjustment to help the Sheriff’s Office deal with gas price inflation.

Chief Deputy Billy Neely said he predicts an increase in the fuel budget to $190,000 from about $145,000 for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“It’s very tight. Everybody is hurting. This economy is like no other year I’ve seen,” Neely said. “The economy is the number one problem with it all.”

“Everybody is trying to weather this storm. The county is weathering the storm with us,” Patten said.