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Fuel co-op could cut costs

POSTED: April 1, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Dawson County officials believe they can save thousands of dollars in fuel costs by buying in bulk with other counties, cities and school systems.

  

Officials from counties across north Georgia have been in talks for about six months to form the North Georgia Fuel Purchasing Cooperative, which would allow members to buy fuel at a discounted rate by bidding in higher volume.  

  

“We feel certain that if we go in with these larger counties, we’re going to get a better price, which will result in thousands of dollars in savings to us and the school board,” said Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner.

  

Among the 13 other entities that may join the co-op are the governments of neighboring Forsyth County and the city of Gainesville, Tanner said.

  

The co-op expects to start receiving bids for review by mid-April. Until then, the potential savings is not known.

  

“We’re in the process of developing pricing if we just do it on our own,” Tanner said. “Then once the bid comes back from the group, we’ll be able to compare the two and know which makes sense.”

  

When the bids are in place, the local school board and the Dawson County commission will decide whether to join the co-op or move forward with their own bidding process.

  

“I feel pretty confident that we will get much better pricing going with the larger counties into this consortium that they’re developing in the Atlanta area,” Tanner said.

  

The county and school system have worked together for several years to cut fuel costs and are building a joint fueling station on Burt Creek Road, which should be completed by May.

  

Still, soaring gas prices last year meant they spent close to $1 million on fuel.

  

“Anytime that we can collaborate with other entities to save money, we’re ahead of the game and doing the right kind of things,” said Mike Berg, chairman of the commission.

  

“We’ve been talking about this fuel station between the schools and us for years, and it’s finally come close to fruition. Then having a bulk buy that allows us to get a discount on fuel is just that much better.”

  

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonews.com.

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