CAMBRIA, N.Y. (WIVB) – Anyone who has filled up their gas tank in the last week knows that fuel prices are skyrocketing. But those record prices don’t just impact your checking account. Families, small businesses, and even governments are taking a close look at how the rising costs impact their budgets.
At Seabert Farms in Cambria, for example, the tractors that run on diesel will be used more and more in coming weeks as the weather turns. A lot of the machinery they use also runs on fuel.
“It’s definitely going to have an effect,” said Kyle Seabert. “How much? We don’t know yet. It’s a little early to tell.”
While some of his prices may go up, Seabert doesn’t believe increasing them across the board is the only answer.
“It’s an answer, but I think trying to cut costs on our end is also very important detail,” he said.
“As far as using the machinery out in the field for weeding, maybe we’ll have to go out ourselves and weed by hand to try to keep that gas price down,” the farmer added. “Maybe not taking as many trips into town to make deliveries. Maybe trying to lump them all in – one morning hitting a couple spots at once instead of going every day.”
On Tuesday, the average cost for a gallon of gas in Buffalo was $4.30, according to AAA. That’s a record. Statewide and national averages were also at record highs. While people are paying more for gas, more of their tax dollars also might be spent at the pump.
Governments use fuel too. In Niagara County, officials estimate they use 226,000 gallons of fuel each year, including 52,000 gallons of diesel.
Hamburg Town Supervisor Randy Hoak conceded high gas costs have an effect on the town’s budget. He says the most expensive fuel cost for the town comes from the police fleet. In 2021, Hoak says the town spent $190,000 to gas up its squad cars. In 2022, $175,000 was budgeted.
“If the prices continue at the rate they are now, we will be $42,000 short in our budget for fuel in the police department,” the town supervisor said.
While some people may be able to cut down on driving to mitigate the impact of fuel costs, Hoak pointed out the police force doesn’t have that option. But there may be other ways to move money around. Hoak is planning to work with the finance department to fill whatever gap exists.
“If we don’t have any snow for the rest of this season and our numbers are lower for our highway department, then we’ll have a little bit more flexibility,” he said.
Meanwhile, Amherst Town Supervisor Brian Kulpa said that town’s police force has switched to hybrid vehicles, helping to mitigate impact.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.