NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Higher gas prices are impacting everyone across Tennessee, including state agencies who are now scrambling to find money in their budgets to keep their vehicles running.
According to AAA, a gallon of gas is now up to about $4.57 cents in Tennessee. That’s about 23 cents more expensive than last week’s state average.
“Just overnight we saw about an additional six or seven cent increase in our state average,” AAA spokesperson Megan Cooper said.
Bob Williams is the Assistant Commissioner of Vehicle and Asset Management for the Tennessee Department of General Services. The department oversees a fleet of 7,000 state vehicles, including THP cruisers and prison buses.
Williams said increased gas prices are driving up his costs.
“We’re not immune to it. Obviously, we have the same increases,” Williams said. “It makes my budget go up considerably.”
In the past year, Williams said the department’s fuel costs have increased about 63%, and he estimates it now costs about $1.5 million a month to keep all the state’s vehicles running.
“We have to be in a lot of communication with the legislative body and the finance administration and make sure there’s enough funds to cover the cost,” Williams said. “They approve a certain amount of spending. If we are projected to exceed that, then we have to go before them and talk about that, and they adjust our budget.”
Williams said to combat high fuel prices they’ve been cutting down on unnecessary travel and making use of online meetings and communication.
Thus far, there’s been enough cash in the pot. But if gas prices continue on like this, that could change.
“Right now in the oil market, we are seeing crude oil prices about double what we were seeing last summer,” Cooper said. “We’re not likely to see a lot of relief before the end of the summer.”
To cut down on your own gas costs, AAA suggests combining trips to run errands, making sure your car is well-maintained and up to date on oil changes and making use of fuel rewards programs.