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Metro Has Locked In Pain At The Pump

Speaking of Metro finances, it looks like the people who buy fuel for the buses have locked in a price of $3.55 a gallon until October of next year.

The buy was completed in "midsummer," according to an e-mail from agency spokeswoman Raequel Roberts, when diesel averaged close to $5 a gallon. METRO's buy might have seemed like a deal at the time, but diesel prices have dropped to about $2.85 a gallon.

"We base our fuel purchase decisions on the need for budget certainty and...it would be folly to establish and live within a budget if we bought at market prices from month to month," Roberts writes. "No one predicted in August, when [regular] gas was $4 a gallon, that it would be $1.59 today."

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Buyers guessed low last year and, according to the agency's figures, saved about $17 million on fuel costs. Two years earlier, the agency saved about $3 million. Weird thing is, in the years that fuel buys weren't so great, Metro doesn't list any losses but lists savings as "$0.0."

Either way, compared to the rest of us, Metro, which burns about 14 million gallons a year, is paying out its ass for fuel right now. Of course, $3.55 a gallon could seem like a bargain this time next year.

-- Paul Knight

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