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New school fuel system to start in October

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System soon will implement a new fuel card system that could save between $150,000 and $300,000 a year.

The Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews last week to contract with a company to get the new system started.

McPherson Companies Inc. will begin to implement its Fuelz Fleet Card system, a fueling alternative for the Transportation Department, beginning in October.

The company is a full-service company of petroleum products and services with operations in Atlanta. It has been in operation in the Southeast for 40 years with a fuel card system for the last 20 years.

The Fuelz system can be tailored to various sized companies and has restrictions and features that can be customized to fit a business' needs.

Cards that transportation officials will use have controls like pump shut off, real-time transaction details and email alerts to avoid finding out problems at the end of the month or billing cycle. Limits can be placed on fuel grades and the number of transactions or gallons per transaction.

Additionally, there are no fees for transactions or annual usage, and it consists of tax-free billing.

Also available are online management controls and preferences, preventative maintenance scheduling and reporting by department and subdepartments. Transaction histories and data also can be downloaded into Microsoft Excel sheets.

Dr. Dennis Carpenter, deputy superintendent for Operations at the Newton County School System, said the fuel card system could make the Transportation Department more efficient.

The system could save $142,500 for the first year by conserving fuel purchases and implementing the system, and Carpenter said the system could see a savings of up to $300,000. In the past, NCSS has looked into options like a fuel island, but that could cost $400,000.

Other systems have saved 10 to 15 percent on fuel purchases, also saving more than $100,000, they reported.

Carpenter said the implementation of the three-tiered bus system this school year also could help the department save more funds, something shown as an issue in a recent audit and something that would assist with rising fuel costs.

To begin the new fuel system, the company will install a card reader at fuel pumps at the NCSS service center on the Covington Bypass, which will cost $9,500.

"The card reader will allow for the tracking of fuel consumption based on vehicle and driver," Carpenter said.

Additionally, NCSS will pay a 1 percent administrative fee to provide NCSS with access to fuel consumption and usage data. The Transportation Department will conduct weekly and monthly reviews of data gathered and make adjustments as necessary, Mathews said.

"The school system will continue to buy its fuel in bulk from its current fuel provider under contract," Carpenter said. "At retail stations, drivers who are authorized to refuel at preapproved sites will be charged retail price less any taxes and a discount based on the amount purchased."

Carpenter said drivers soon will meet with representatives from McPherson for training, and the company also will have a representative onsite to assist drivers with refueling and using the new card reader when it is implemented in early October.

The contract with McPherson will expire on Sept. 20, 2012.