For Stephenson County Sheriff Dave Snyders, keeping people safe in his county is getting a lot more costly, not due to crimes, but because of gasoline.
"It's very troubling. The high cost of fuel is putting a damper I'll say on our budget," Snyders said.
A big damper. Stephenson County sheriff's department budgeted $43,000 for fuel during the 2005 budget year, which ends in November. But with sky high pump prices, Snyders expects his office to be nearly $25,000 in the hole for gasoline alone.
"It's interesting, because our total miles per month are down by 1,000, yet our fuel costs are higher than they were at the same time last year," Snyders said.
That's where the city of Freeport comes in. Currently, the county and city are working on a deal in which Stephenson County Sheriff's Department and Freeport Police would share gas costs. Sheriff's deputies, who fill their tanks at a local retailer, would instead use the less expensive gasoline Freeport police officers get at the city yards.
"It's a good idea, it makes sense if we can buy fuel together. It would be a cost savings for both entities, the city and the county," Snyders said.
The deal would be especially beneficial for the sheriff's office, which aside from its normal patrolling duties, must also transport federal and state prisoners, racking up lots of miles, and guzzling up lots of gas.
"We thought that would be ample to get us through the year, but with fuel costs rising, we can't control that and we have to continue our business, we are in the business of public safety," Snyders said.
Balancing public safety with thrift at the pump.
Sheriff Snyders says a gasoline sharing deal between Freeport Police and the Stephenson County Sheriff's Department could be finalized within the next two months.
The Boone County Sheriff's Department and Belvidere Police currently share fuel at their city garage.