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Walker budget includes more inspectors to check pump accuracy

Published On: Feb 26 2013 07:57:58 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 26 2013 07:58:36 AM CST
Gas pump testing regulation

More than double the number of inspectors would check gas pumps to make sure customers get what they've paid for under Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposals.

Administrators at the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection asked Walker last fall to combine two pump inspection programs they called "inefficient."

Right now, 15 inspectors check that pumps dispense the proper amount of gas, and are required to take a yearly look at pumps in cities with more than 5,000 people.

But with thousands of pumps to check, those in rural areas don't get inspected as often, a WISC-TV investigation found last October. About 50 stations were found shorting consumers in 2011, state data indicate.

"I can't say why (the request) wasn't done before," said Sandy Chalmers, a Trade and Consumer Protection administrator. "It is the way most states operate. We looked at other Midwestern states, and most states combine their petroleum quality and gas pump accuracy inspections."

Under the proposal, a separate group that checks the quality of the fuel would be rolled into DATCP's inspection program.

Inspectors from both programs currently check many of the same gas stations every year, which administrators said is an inefficient practice.

Walker's budget calls for training all 37 workers on both types of inspections. They would also look at price scanners and grocery store scales, which DATCP currently checks.

"The net result would be, we'll be able to do more inspections across the board," Chalmers said.

Besides the potential benefit to consumers, Chalmers said the proposal would save the state money.

It will cost $915,000 to train the workers and buy new equipment up-front. But eliminating one program would save $460,000 a year, she said.

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