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The State of Utah is filling up a lot of gas guzzlers.
Those vehicles consumed nearly $18 million in gas last year, a 117 percent increase from 2004.
A state report says the amount of fuel used by state vehicles has remained steady at 6 million gallons a year over the last four years. What's changed is a 12 percent increase in the number of larger, gas-guzzling trucks and sport-utility vehicles in the state fleet. That number went up even though lawmakers tried to regulate the fleet in early 2000.
State agencies budget on what gasoline cost a year and a half ago, not the prices today. They say they're looking at a number of options to manage the fleet more efficiently.
Gov. Jon Huntsman will be long gone, out of office, before the state turns out those gas guzzlers and shifts to more fuel-efficient energy-saving vehicles.
"It will take a full replacement cycle to get through all 4,500 vehicles, so, six to eight years," Margaret Chambers, director of fleet operations, said.
The state dumps gas guzzlers when they hit 90,000 miles, replacing up to 700 cars a year out of some 4,000 in stock.
Tuesday's report from the Legislative Fiscal Analyst's Office recommends that state agencies be billed directly for fuel costs rather than having bills sent to the Division of Fleet Operations. That may help agencies become more cognizant of fuel costs upfront, the analysts said.
Chambers says her agency has also been trying to buy more hybrid vehicles.
(The Associated Press with information from The Salt Lake Tribune contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)