Within the next few weeks, the Town of Johnston will stop paying retail prices for gasoline that fuels police cars and other municipal vehicles, thanks to a new 8,000-gal. tank that Gill Services of Warwick installed at the Johnston Police Department on Feb. 23.
[The accompanying video shows scenes from the tank installation and an interview with Gill Services owner Paul Gill.]
During a recent phone interview, Mayor Joseph Polisena explained that the $150,000 for the project — approved by the town council in December — is being paid from an existing capital budget.
Polisena agreed that the tank installation is well-timed, as gas prices have been rising lately.
"We're going to be self-sufficient — we have to rely on the town being independent," said Polisena, who noted that the town will soon buy gasoline at state wholesale prices. "I'm going to venture to guess that we'll to save $25,000 to $30,000 a year."
Currently, police and town vehicles travel to a privately-owned gas station under a deal made by the late former Mayor William Macera.
"That deal's been going on and on since I got here, and I understand that," Polisena explained, "but I spend more time fixing the problems of the past than moving forward."
And even though the town gets a discount from the private station, Polisena said the state rate for gas is even lower.
"If you're looking at 35 cents of savings per gallon, on 100,000 gallons a year, that's $35,000 — it's substantial savings," Polisena said.
Once the project is complete, police officers and town employees will have a dedicated, paved area for fueling cars, and will be issued key fobs that track usage. A backup diesel generator will ensure continuous power to the fuel station, Polisena added.
Police Chief Richard S. Tamburini, who was on site for the tank installation, noted the importance of having a dependable fueling station in situations like last summer's Tropical Storm Irene.
"We'll always be able to fuel our vehicles in an emergency situation," Tamburini said. "That private vendor may be out of service during an emergency — this will never be out of service, and I think that was the Mayor's focus, to put the tank in so that we'll always be able to respond to the citizens of Johnston."
Fuel Depot, Boiler at JPD Approved, Dec. 13, 2011.