Last month, the overall costs of goods and services purchased by local governments increased 0.5 percent, according to American City & County’s Municipal Cost Index. The April 2012 Municipal Cost Index value of 225.1 is 2.9 percent higher than last year.

Most items tracked by American City & County showed only slight price changes in the last month. The largest increase was seen in crude petroleum, which increased 5.4 percent in one month and is 21.8 percent higher than last year. Home heating oil and distillates increased 5.3 percent, and gypsum products continued to increase 5.1 percent last month. Gypsum products are up 15.2 percent over last year, and diesel fuel (No. 2) is up 14.5 percent.

Notably, natural gas once again showed the greatest price decrease in the last month among the items tracked by American City & County. It was down 14.8 percent, and it is down 37.6 percent since last year, which is the greatest decrease among items tracked by American City & County. Electronic computers dropped 8.5 percent last month.

The Municipal Cost Index, developed exclusively by American City & County, is designed to show the effects of inflation on the cost of providing municipal services. State and local government officials rely on American City & County's Municipal Cost Index to stay on top of price trends, help control price increases for commodities, make informed government contract decisions and intelligent budget planning. Since 1978, readers have loyally referred to the Municipal Cost Index to determine the cost of inflation and, hence, the rising cost of doing business as a local government.

American City & County’s Municipal Cost Index for April 2012 and a complete archive since 1978 is available now at americancityandcounty.com/municipal-cost-index.