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New London City and School Board split on fuel agreement

NEW LONDON — The City of New London will no longer have a shared fuel agreement with the New London School Board.

During New London’s board of trustees utilities meeting on Jan. 4, the board approved the termination of the shared fuel agreement between themselves and the School Board, and also discussed actions to be taken on the purchase of bulk fuel in the new agreement for the future.

Trustee Jerry Wilhelm made the motion for termination, which was seconded by Chairwoman Jodi Jackson and confirmed unanimously by the rest of the board. A new agreement was subsequently approved in the same manner.

“They’re virtually the same contract, just getting the school out of the way,” said City Clerk Kasi Howard. “They went off and did their own thing, which was their choice.”

The school board approved this on their end during their December school board meeting following months of discussion of whether the vendor - Prairie Ag Commodies - was the best fit for the district.

Other than splitting with the school on the fuel contact, another alteration to this agreement was making it easier to collect a discount, which had not been happening when the school was part of the contract.

“The school was paying (their bill), but they weren’t paying it soon enough to get a discount,” Wilhelm said. “We’ll get 4 cents off (per gallon) provided that we pay it when we have our (City Council) meetings.”

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This is being implemented with the city now being responsible for telling Prairie AG when the fuel tanks require filling.

It is unknown if the city will renew their agreement with Prairie AG or go out to bid after the remaining months on their contract are up.

Chairwoman Jackson largely favored letting the agreement go to bid. “We need to bid it out,” she said. “We can get better pricing if we bid it out.”

Wilhelm pushed against this, advocating for staying with Prairie AG.

Trustee Steve Rotter preferred to wait to see what costs would be in the event that they did not renew their agreement with Prairie AG.

“The only advantage I can see to it is we know we’re going to be using a lot less fuel,” said Trustee Bob Byczek, referring to the fact that — without schools buses using the same tanks — fuel use would be down. Byczek speculated that they would be using half the fuel they were before over the coming year.

The board of trustees will meet again on Feb. 1.

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