Late Wednesday morning Bob Thomas was pontificating about the state of the local economy and congress as he was filling up his green Toyota pickup truck at the city owned fuel station. The facility is bare-bones with no snacks, no sodas and no lottery tickets. It’s not on a main thoroughfare, but set back a bit from Highway 27.
It has been open less than a week, but has generated plenty of controversy and nationwide attention. It’s believed Somerset is the first municipality to sell gasoline directly to customers.
“It should have been this way years ago: fair,” said Thomas. “You get me? If the people at the refinery is making money on the gas and the city is going to make a little money. I don’t mind you making you a living whenever you come to work for me and pay you a fair wage. But I don’t want to send you to the Bahamas on a 30 day vacation, though.”
It was complaints similar to Thomas’ that led Somerset’s City Council to broach the topic of selling its own gasoline. The city had already been selling compressed natural gas for two years. In fact, much of the infrastructure the city needed to begin selling gasoline was already in place to service Somerset’s fleet vehicles.