Weights & Measurers Saves Drivers Money
David Thomas
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Weights & Measurers Saves Drivers Money

Auditor’s Office Still Saving Drivers Money During Gas Price Hike

Jefferson- Gas reached over $5 a gallon for regular unleaded in Ashtabula County and with that, many drivers are left with less in their pocket but the same amount in their gas tank. County Auditor David Thomas is quick to point out that the price part of buying gasoline is outside of his office’s control but ensuring that the amount you buy is correct is right in his list of responsibilities as the County Sealer of Weights and Measures.

“Gas is outrageous right now, unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to help the price at the pump,” said County Auditor David Thomas. “But I can remind all drivers in Ashtabula County that our office inspects and certifies every gas pump every year to make sure when you buy a gallon of that overpriced gas, you’re getting what you pay for.”

Jim Varckette is the County Auditor’s Certified Weights and Measures Inspector who has the duty to be in the trenches with Ashtabula County gas stations and also grocery stores, propane tanker trucks, railroad scales, fuel oil, etc.  

“We’re really fortunate to have Jim, he’s actually our longest continuous serving employee at 31 years and is very passionate about his work and protecting our taxpaying consumers,” said Auditor Thomas.  

Varckette tests and seals the commercial devices operating in Ashtabula County each year totaling 1,400 liquid measuring devices inspected yearly in addition to 401 Scales and 165 Establishments which are checked once a year according to the Auditor’s Office.

The reason for all of this work? Consumer protection says Thomas. “A good Weights and Measures program will save the average consumer roughly $300 a year as we ensure that weighing and measuring devices are accurate,” explained Auditor Thomas.

An out of calibration gas pump could short a consumer or gas station as an example, which, when combined over the number of gallons pumped adds up quickly with today’s prices. The Auditor’s role in sealer Weights and Measures is to ensure correct calibration and accurate sales.

There are times according to Thomas where a pump must be put out of order until recalibrated or a grocery scale decommissioned due to age. “Our job is to mainly keep everything honest and in working order for our tax payers. I don’t think anyone would be fraudulent but we consider ourselves a partner to these businesses we service,” stated Auditor Thomas.

Testing is done with five-gallon certified test measurers. The allowable error or tolerance amount is plus or minus 3.3 ounces or six cubic inches of gasoline per 5 gallons. This amounts to .02 gallons of allowed difference according to Thomas. If there is an issue with a pump the station is given 10 days to recalibrate and repair the issue and can then be retested by the Weights and Measures Department.

All of the data is shared with the State of Ohio’s Department of Agriculture and the station as well as being available to the public.

“Jim also tests that the computer system is accurate with the price displayed and price charged as well as looking out for skimmers or illegal commercial pumps,” said Auditor Thomas. The Auditor’s Office rarely receives complaints on gas but when they occur, Varckette goes to the pump in question to perform additional testing.      

While fuel quantity is tested annually, fuel quality is not tested by Ashtabula County or any other non-charter county in Ohio as the ability to do so has not been granted by the State Legislature.

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