County eyes fuel changes

There is not much county officials can do about the price of gasoline.

There is much to be done, however, about managing the hundreds of county vehicles that run on that gasoline, said Michael Tresler, director of the county Finance Department.

In addition to handing out special keys for most county vehicles that will allow tracking of gas and maintenance, county officials are looking at installing tanks and pumps at certain county refuse transfer stations, and bringing all county vehicles under one fueling system maintained by county workers, Tresler said.

Currently, most county vehicles are fueled at county Department of Public Works baseyards in Hanalei, Kapa’a and Hanapepe, and at the motor pool facility in Lihu’e, he said.

But, The Kaua’i Bus and Kaua’i Police Department vehicles are fueled at Senter Petroleum automated fuels network locations, a practice that might have to end, he said.

“Because fuel prices have skyrocketed, and will continue to go up, we have to get the best cost,” and that might mean having all county vehicles fueled at county facilities, Tresler said.

“Fuel management is trying to move everyone back to using county pumps. Cost of fuel, we needed to address it,” he said.

Members of the County Council have also asked about better management of county vehicles in the wake of rapidly rising fuel prices, he continued.

Tresler said he thinks that, if county leaders bring all county vehicles under one fueling system, they might be able to use that combined buying power to get good prices for gasoline.

County officials announced the installation of the Gasboy fleet-management system some time ago, and last week in a press release and at a press conference offering more information about the system.

“We’re excited about it,” Tresler said of the “program to get better information on the fleet, manage it better.”

They’ll soon be “going live, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he said.

Utilizing technology to better maintain the county’s fleet of vehicles and improve tracking of fuel consumption, county officials are about to incorporate the Gasboy system into their operations.

Essentially a portable database, the Gasboy Fleetkey Management System uses special data keys that contain encoded information and controls access to fuel-dispensing equipment, only activating pumps when valid keys are used.

“It’s always been a priority for us to seek ways to improve efficiencies within county government,” said Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste.

“With the high cost of fuel, the Gasboy system will help us to control the amount of fuel that’s dispensed, and better manage when vehicles need to be serviced.”

According to Eric Knutzen, the county’s information technology (IT) manager, over the next few months each county vehicle will be assigned a special key.

“Every time someone fills up his assigned car or truck with gas at our county pumps, the microchip in the Fleetkey will record his employee ID number, pump number, amount of fuel dispensed, date and time,” said Knutzen.

The Gasboy system also checks odometer entries against the last odometer entry stored on the Fleetkey, to help ensure accurate odometer entries, added Knutzen, noting that the latest information travels with a vehicle, even maintenance dates.

“We will soon be able to generate various types of reports with up-to-the-minute data including transaction reports with maintenance-due reminders, pump data information and inventory reports that list current inventory and reorder points for all tanks,” said Knutzen.

He pointed out that, with a proven track record, the Gas-boy system is expected to save County of Kaua’i leaders, and, ultimately, taxpayers a significant amount of money annually.

The Gasboy system was introduced in the United States in the early 1980s, and since then leaders of many companies and organizations have incorporated it into their operations.

Among the list of Gasboy users around the state are the Hawai’i County Public Works Department, Honolulu Board of Water Supply, U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility, and the state Department of Transportation.

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