Published on Wed., Sept. 3, 2014
By THEO KARANTSALIS
Since purchasing 75 “fuel efficient” gas-powered powered golf carts, in July 2013, gas usage at the course has more than doubled.
“The reason is that this year we switched our golf cart fleet from battery operated to gas operated,” said Finance Director William Alonso, in an Aug. 12 email, when asked about the $30,111.41 overage in fuel consumption. “That is why the fuel expense is higher.”
City leaders voted 4-1 to lease the carts, in June 2013, for $259,000 over a five-year period.
“There is virtually no carbon footprint whatsoever with these carts, because everybody has been working on the ecology part of it,” said city golf director Paul O’Dell, at a June 2013 council meeting. At the time, the city relied on electric golf carts.
O’Dell started his $112,630-a-year position to run the golf and country club in April 2013.
The projected 2013-2014 fiscal year fuel budget for the golf course was $21,740, city records show. Fuel invoices, however, total $51,851.41 for gas purchased up until July 7, 2014, show invoices obtained through a public records request.
The result: a fuel budget overrun of $30,111.41. Note that this figure does not include approximately three additional months of pending fuel use because the city’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.
“Maybe electric was better,” said Councilman Jaime Petralanda, at a special meeting held Aug. 11.
It cost the city about $40,000 “every two years” to replace batteries in the electric golf carts, according to O’Dell.
Petralanda then countered that “lead batteries are possibly worse than emissions.”
“How about the footprint?” Petralanda said.
City Manager Ron Gorland did not respond to emails seeking comment as to why last year’s budget did not take into account that more fuel would be spent on the gas golf carts.