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Fuel co-op with other governments might save Gainesville money
Calvin Ray gasses up a Gainesville Public Works truck. Gainesville may join 11 other government agencies, including Forsyth, Gwinnett and Jackson counties, in a fuel cooperative. - photo by Tom Reed

Gainesville is one of 12 local governments that may participate in a fuel cooperative.

City officials, who budgeted $1.4 million for fuel expenses this fiscal year, hope buying fuel along with other government agencies could save the city money next year, Gainesville Chief Financial Officer Melody Marlowe said.

The city has agreed to join other government agencies, including Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett and Jackson counties, to bid out a fuel contract to local vendors.

The contract, which would provide the agencies a total of 24 million gallons of fuel for a year, went out to bid Thursday, said Scott Callan, director of Gwinnett County’s purchasing division.

The cooperative was one idea Gwinnett officials had for cutting costs in an economic downturn, Callan said.

"It just turned out to be a no-brainer," Callan said. "We needed to save money in our budget. It forced us to take a look at it and come up with some creative ways to save money."

Gwinnett County first approached local governments in the region with the idea of a fuel co-op last fall, but Callan said such purchases are nothing new on the national level.

Gwinnett County officials, who reportedly spent $18 million on fuel last year, expect to save approximately $100,000 in the venture, according to a news release from the county.

But Callan said he is hopeful that the contract could save the county more than that.

"It is our expectation that we would save hopefully in the six figures," Callan said. "We thoroughly expect smaller cities and smaller counties to save more."

Gainesville’s participation depends upon the result of the bidding process, which should end in May. The city has not committed to signing a contract with the winning vendor, Marlowe said.

"Unless it saves us on the price per gallon, the city’s not required to participate," Marlowe said.