Cabell County sheriff talks rising gas prices

Sheriff Chuck Zerkle talked about how the high gas prices are affecting the department's budget.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 10:05 PM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The national average price of a gallon of gas reached above $4.30 Thursday.

Cabell County Sheriff Chuck Zerkle says his department is not immune to the rising fuel prices.

“It’s very concerning and something we’ve got to take a hard look at,” he said.

He says they average spending $10,000 to $12,000 a month on gas.

“That’s under normal gas prices,” Zerkle said. “You can imagine what this big raise is going to do to us, and from what we can tell, we don’t know what the end in sight is.”

The department is working on its budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Zerkle says money that would normally be budgeted for equipment may have to be moved to pay for fuel.

“Maybe one less car, maybe something like that,” he said.

The sheriff is hoping it doesn’t reach the point where they have to cut down on patrolling.

“People want us to come around their neighborhood and be in their community, he said. “It’s really hard to cut back. Cabell County is kind of a small county, but there are a lot of miles of roads, and we try on every given shift to reach out and go to every area of the county and be seen in case something goes on, and the mere presence can deter things from happening.”

Zerkle recalled how operations were affected when he was working for the State Police and the budget was lean.

“They limited us to so many miles and prioritized calls, and we even got to one point where we doubled up to try to save gas,” he said. “I hope we don’t get to that. I don’t want to get to that. I think we’re far from that, but that doesn’t mean if things go crazy really, really fast, it may be closer than what we want.”

The sheriff says if it gets bad enough, they’ll have to ask the County Commission if there’s carryover money that can be re-allocated to his office.

Some experts have said a ban on Russian oil imports could lift averages to more than $5 per gallon.

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