Dallas County is facing a budget shortfall of $20 to $30 million, largely because they have gotten used to increasing spending at double-digit rates, but for the first time in years, appraisal increases didn’t quite keep up. Commissioners are looking for savings, and among them are stopping personal misuse of county cars and switching from fuel-hogging Ford Crown Victorias to Ford Fusions.

Even John Wiley Price, perhaps the most liberal commissioner, has vowed not to raise taxes, noting his low-income constituents can least afford a higher property tax bill as they are coping with rising food and gas prices.

Speaking of gas, Dallas County is $830,000 over budget on fuel this year and the County has determined some sheriff’s deputies are using their county cars, and presumably county gas, for personal business.

In addition to cracking down on that, County Budget Director has identified 187 sheriffs’ deputies and constables who can receive Ford Fusions rather than Ford Crown Victorias when they are due for a new car. That will add about six miles per gallon and most taxpayers will not lose sleep if people being arrested enjoy a a few less inches of rear seat legroom on their way to jail.

Total savings from switching Ford models is estmiated at $1.8 million. Other Texas counties should take note, as this one of many ways to drive down wasteful spending.