Council agrees to purchase fuel under contract

The city of Vandalia will, for the first time, purchase fuel for city vehicles under contract, but the startup date for that contract has yet to be determined.
Two weeks after South Central FS offered to sell gas and diesel to the city under contract, aldermen voted to accept that offer, but to let Mayor Rick Gottman decide when that practice will start.
The city has been buying fuel from South Central FS, and at the Jan. 5 council meeting, Barry Jahraus of the cooperative told aldermen that the only thing that will change with a contract is “you will have predetermined prices.”
He said that the city would have to agree to buy a certain number of gallons, and that it could buy the fuel under contract by quarters, up to a full year.
Jahraus said that with a contract, the city’s cost would be about $1 a gallon less than what it has been paying for the past four or five years.
The council, at the suggestion of Alderman Andy Lester, agreed to hold off on a decision for two weeks.
At that time, based on oil futures, the prices offered by South Central FS for the first quarter of this year were $1.998 for gas and $2.41 for diesel.
For the other quarters, the prices were: second quarter-gas, $2.18 and diesel $2.487; third quarter-gas, $2.16 and diesel, $2.54; and fourth quarter, gas, $2.07 and diesel, $2.55.
At that time, the current market price was $1.74 for gas and $2.06 for diesel.
Jahraus was back at Monday’s meeting, and the prices being offered at that time were:
• First quarter-gas, $2.011 and diesel, $2.282.
• Second quarter-gas, $2.141 and diesel, $2.365.
• Third quarter-gas, $2.131 and diesel, $2.415.
• Fourth quarter-gas, $2.031 and diesel, $2.456.
Alderman Mike Hobler said that he had spoken with Lester, who was unable to attend Monday’s meeting, and Lester proposed the idea of giving Gottman the authority to initiate a contract, based on fuel prices.
“That way, we don’t have to wait two or three weeks to OK it, and prices go up,” he said.
Giving Gottman the authority to handle the matter would give the city some time to see whether fuel prices will continue to drop. At the point where it appears that they are at their lowest level and ready to increase, the mayor could sign an agreement with South Central FS.
Jahraus told the council that “futures have kind of stalled coming down … and market prices have stalled.”
Aldermen Neil Clark said, “It’s not going to get much better, in my opinion,” and Alderman Jerry Swarm said it’s worth seeing if prices will continue to drop.
“I can’t see paying 25 cents a gallon more (if prices continue to drop) by locking it in now,” Swarm said.
Hobler said he was ready to OK a contract. “I was good at locking it in at the last meeting, but that seems to be the consensus (to give the mayor authority to choose a date).”
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council approved an ordinance prohibiting parking on the east side of Second Street, between Johnson and Edwards streets.
• The council OK’d filling vacancies at the water treatment plant that are being created with the retirement of Randy Bone in May and David Goodin in June.
Bone has been employed by the city for 35 years and Goodin 33 years.
The hiring process will begin by contacting the union representing public works employees to see if any of those employees are interested in the positions.
Aldermen agreed with Gottman’s recommendation that water plant Superintendent Marty Huskey lead the process.
• Gottman reported that the city is waiting for approval from state and federal agencies for replacement of the two bridges at Fifth and Randolph streets.
The mayor said the goal is to bid the project this summer.
• Gottman reported that Scott Hunt of Hurst-Roche had approached five contractors about making repairs to the bridge on Thrill Hill Road west of U.S. Route 51.
“One said, ‘Absolutely no,’ two have not returned calls, one is interested in bidding and one is a maybe,” Gottman said.
The mayor said he would be contacting legislators to see if they can get state funds to help the city fund the repairs to the bridge.
• Gottman asked the council’s cemetery and landfill committee to begin working on the city’s contract for garbage pickup. The current contract expires at the end of August.
Clark, chairman of the committee, said that he has already spoken with Doty Sanitation about the contract.
• The mayor told aldermen that the time frame for repairs to the Little Red Caboose has been extended until June 30.
After two youths vandalized the caboose, one of the juveniles, and his father, asked that they be allowed to remedy the case by making repairs to it.
An agreement to do so was reached through the Fayette County State’s Attorney’s Office, but little work was done last summer.
The juvenile and his father now have until June 30 to complete the repairs. If they are not done by that time, the state’s attorney’s office will proceed with prosecution of the juvenile on vandalism charges.
At the suggestion of Swarm, the city’s public works department will cover the windows of the caboose temporarily.
• The council observed a moment of silence for Jennifer Rogers Knebel, a Vandalia Elementary School teacher and co-owner of Sixth Street Pub; Brian Garner, a friend of Vandalia Tourism; and Dennis Gerkin Jr., owner of Gerkin Insurance Agency/State Farm.

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