Fuel expense fight leaves Fairfield police cruisers running on fumes

FAIRFIELD, Ala. (WIAT) — The Fairfield City Council’s refusal to pay for fuel means that Fairfield police vehicles are running on fumes.

Fairfield Police Chief Leon Davis says the department has taken drastic steps to conserve the fuel that remains in their patrol cars. Davis says officers have made emergency calls a priority, but the dwindling fuel supply means they can’t do routine patrols or allow officers to back each other up on traffic stops.

It all stems from an argument over the department’s fuel expenses and the detailed logs that the city council is demanding.

There are two fuel pumps behind the Fairfield Police Department and fire department building that typically keeps city vehicles running. There’s still some diesel fuel left, which is good news for firefighters, but the police vehicles only take unleaded fuel and that pump is empty, according to Davis.

“We are still able to respond to emergencies even though our fuel supply is at a critical level, of course. There was a vote of the council and the bill for our main source of fuel was not paid as well as our alternate source of fuel,” said Davis.

Fairfield City Council member and Finance Committee Chair Gloria Matthews says she won’t sign off on any more fuel payments until she gets an invoice from the police department.

“Anything that you purchase you need a receipt. So, all we’re asking is to give us a invoice,” said  Matthews. “I guarantee you that if we stop letting these employees drive the city vehicles home that our gas will be cut in half,” said Matthews.

According to Matthews, the outlook is bleak for cash strapped Fairfield.

“I won’t know until Friday if our workers will be paid or not. Honestly, they’re supposed to be paid on Friday, but I cannot say that they will be paid on Friday because I would be lying,” said Matthews.

Fairfield residents are caught in the middle of the funding dispute.

“It’s past concerning. It’s to the point where it’s nothing else that we can do other than pray. We’ve tried everything else. We’ve been to the city council, but we can’t get any, how can you get anywhere when they’re fighting amongst each other?” said Tiffany Lewis.

Davis says some officers have been paying out of pocket to fuel their patrol vehicles, but without a reasonable expectation that they’ll get reimbursed he says he won’t ask them to do that.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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