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Finance group OKs vehicle changes
The Glynn County Finance Committee voted Tuesday to recommend budgeting $48,000 to convert eight vehicles to a dual fuel system to run on either gasoline or propane. The intent of the pilot program is to determine how much the county will save if it eventually converts its fleet of 320 vehicles to run on propane.

Last year, the county spent $900,000 for gasoline and another $500,000 for diesel fuel. Propane costs about $1.75 a gallon, about half the current price of gasoline.

Other selling points are the octane level in propane is about 20 percent higher than gas, so vehicles run better and need fewer oil changes. And propane-powered vehicles have 70 percent fewer emissions than gasoline.

The cost also includes training for county mechanics.

The vehicles identified for the program are two Crown Victorias assigned to the police department, two Ford Ranger trucks assigned to Community Development Code Enforcement, one Ford F-150 truck assigned to Mosquito Control, one Ford F-250 truck assigned to Traffic Safety and two Ford F-250 vans assigned to Public Works inmate details.

Becky Rowell, assistant county administrator and the county public works director, estimated it will take two to five years for the county to break even on the investment. But the county will have a better idea how quickly it will recoup its investment six months after the vehicles are converted, she said.

"We're about to learn a great deal," she said. "We've done other pilot programs. Some have worked beautifully, some have been abject failures."

County Commissioner Mary Hunt, a finance committee member, expressed reluctance about voting to recommend spending $6,000 to convert each vehicle.

"If we do and it's a failure, we've just wasted $48,000 of taxpayer dollars," she said.

County Commissioner Clyde Taylor said despite the uncertainty, the potential for savings should be investigated.

"It's anybody's guess," he said. "It seems to me it would be worth the exploration."

Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering estimated it will take four to five years for the county to see a return on its investment for the patrol cars that will be converted. The estimate is based on the cost of gasoline at $3.25 a gallon. Doering said the average lifespan of a patrol car is seven years.

The finance committee voted unanimously to approve the recommendation. The County Commission will vote on the recommendation.

A vote to recommend $79,940 in SPLOST 4 funds to build two new tennis courts at Epworth Park was deferred until the next finance committee meeting.

Committee chairman Tom Sublett was not at Tuesday's meeting, leaving Taylor to act as committee chairman. Because the chairman cannot make a motion, and Hunt refused to do so, a recommendation on the tennis courts will have to wait until the November finance committee meeting.

Hunt refused to make the motion because a tennis court complex was approved for a park in north Glynn County.

"I think we're competing with each other," she said. "It's a waste of taxpayer dollars. You can do it at the next finance meeting."

The committee also approved allowing the county recreation department to solicit bids either to rebuild the kiddie pool at Seldon Park or build a splash pool. It voted to recommend spending $185,000 to repair the Seldon Park pool and bring it into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

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