The Iowa State Patrol is facing a big shortfall in its fuel budget. Gas prices have been above $3 a gallon since the first of the year – with the current statewide average at $3.41 a gallon. Iowa State Patrol Captain Curt Henderson says his agency is budgeted for just $2.34 a gallon.

“So, obviously we’re facing prices of more than one-dollar a gallon more than what we’re budgeted for,” Henderson said. “Gasoline is a pretty critical component of what we do or use in our organization. This creates some concern for us and it’s something we’re watching very closely.”

Troopers, for now, are not being told to limit their daily mileage or spend more time monitoring traffic by parking roadside. “In the past, we’ve used those kind of strategies and that may be something we move to in the future. But, at this point, we’re understaffed to the point that it’s very difficult for us to justify not sending our guys out and not conducting regular patrols,” Henderson said.

The Iowa State Patrol currently has 370 troopers. The patrol’s staffing level has been on the decline since the late 1990s when 455 troopers were on the force. “Being down 85 troopers is enough of a shortage in and of itself – that we just can’t justify pulling any more people off the road,” Henderson said.