Some of the highest-paid public officials in Oklahoma County government aren't immune from the pinch at the pump, so they've started carpooling. District 3 County Commissioner Ray Vaughn and two members of his staff get rides to work from the county engineer on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Vaughn drives his staff from Edmond to their downtown office on other days.
Vaughn's county salary is $103,262 a year. His deputies, Rick Buchanan and Randy Grau, are paid $81,405 and $78,780 a year, respectively. "The gas prices hurt everyone,” Buchanan said. "Fortunately, Ray, Randy and some others live in Edmond, so we can at least meet at a common place to carpool.” Every morning, Vaughn's deputies park their cars in a lot off Broadway in Edmond and wait on Vaughn to pull up in his Ford pickup. Buchanan said he's saving about $50 a week in gas costs by carpooling with his boss. Like many government entities and businesses, Oklahoma County is considering staggered four-day work weeks for some of its employees. However, there's not much the county can do to cut fuel costs for its highway construction and maintenance operations. "When it comes to road building, you've got to build roads, and those costs keep rising because the cost of oil is up,” Buchanan said. The high cost of oil, which is needed for road building equipment as well as asphalt, is preventing governments nationwide from maintaining local roads at the level they could just a year ago. Staff Writer John Estus