Talk about pain at the pump.

With gas prices hovering near $4 per gallon, Santa Rosa expects to spend $5 million over the next two years on fuel for its fleet of police cars, fire trucks, buses and hundreds of other city vehicles.

The City Council on Tuesday approved two contracts to buy fuel differently than it has in the past.

Previously, the city made separate purchases of bulk fuel every month to make sure it was paying recent prices. But because city codes require competitive bidding for purchases over $5,000, this required requesting, evaluating and awarding bids for fuel monthly.

To save time and energy, the city has switched to two-year fuel contracts in which the price is set at a set amount above the supplier's cost.

The council approved an up to $4.88 million contract with SC Fuels in Orange County, and an up to $120,000 contract with Redwood Coast Petroleum, Inc., of Santa Rosa.

The contracts contain a 15 percent contingency to cover the cost of higher future fuel prices.