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County takes steps to fight fuel costs

My Opinion
Ross Schulz, Staff Writer

It’s not often measures are taken during county meetings that virtually everyone supports, but that was the case last week when the Harrison County Board of Commissioners met.
The three-member board unanimously agreed, beginning April 1, to shift the Harrison County Highway Department to a four-day, 10-hour-a-day work week to save money on fuel in light of rising gas prices.
It makes sense to save money with the plan by parking the county vehicles an extra day a week. The large dump and brush truck vehicles are obviously not light on fuel, so a significant amount of money, especially during the entire spring/ summer/fall work period, will be saved.
Each day, the workers drive from their homes to the work site or to the garage in Corydon and then to the work site, so one less day a week of that travel will save fuel. Plus, the trucks ‘ at least some of them ‘ run for the most part all day while working on road and other projects.
Commissioner Chairman James Goldman said the county could substantially save fuel without losing any production.
‘I feel like it’s a way for the county to save some money,’ he said. ‘We think it’s worth a shot.’
Goldman said the county spent about $20,000 on diesel fuel in the month of January alone, which is usually a slow month. However, unseasonably warm weather allowed for a good amount of work this year.
With diesel and gasoline prices steadily climbing, any possible method to conserve fuel should be taken under consideration.
The highway employees shouldn’t have an issue with working a couple of extra hours a day in return for a three-day weekend each week.
Goldman said the schedule will be Monday through Thursday, but the 10-hour time-frame could fluctuate throughout the summer. If it gets extremely hot during the summer months, Goldman said they could bring the highway employees in to work earlier and let them leave earlier, which has been done in the past but may prove more difficult with 10 hours to work with rather than eight.
The plan will be a work-in-progress and will be evaluated as time passes.
The employees will still be available for overtime at any point in the work week if it’s needed because of storm damage or any other reason.
The department will switch back to eight-hour days in November when the time change goes into effect on the first Sunday of the month.
With the struggles Harrison County has had recently with its general fund, it’s a welcome sign to see the board of commissioners using sound judgment to help save the county money.