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High gas prices could affect local budgets in the Southern Tier

Gas prices in Ithaca hover just below five dollars a gallon on June, 22, 2022. (Megan Zerez/WSKG)
Gas prices in Ithaca hover just below five dollars a gallon on June, 22, 2022. (Megan Zerez/WSKG)

Local governments use a lot of gas, and the ongoing surge in prices has an impact on budgets.

"Gasoline prices are definitely going to be an issue for us this year at the sheriff’s office," said Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne. He added his department operates a significant share of county owned vehicles. "We run 24/7, we have cars on all the time."

Still, the sheriff said he does not expect to end the year over budget. The department has a budget of $109,699 for fuel and vehicle maintenance, but Osborne said the department will have to shuffle around funds from other budget items to compensate for the increased fuel costs.

"We’re watching our gas budget for 2022 come and go very quickly," Osborne said.

Tompkins County allocated $6.6 million dollars to the Sheriff's department in the most recent budget.

Overall, Tompkins County has budgeted a little over a million dollars for fuel and vehicle maintenance this year between all departments. The highway department and the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport are other big gasoline consumers for the county.

New York State suspended its collection of gas taxes last month. That action seems to have had little effect just three weeks later, as oil companies continue to increase prices.

President Joe Biden is also considering a similar gas tax holiday at the federal level.