Is it 'Socialism' or giving the people what they want? Hear the debate over Somerset's retail gasoline experiment
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.
The average price for a gallon of gas in Kentucky stands at $3.40 a gallon of regular, according to AAA East Central. That’s about four cents higher than the national average. But drivers across the commonwealth are seeing a fairly dramatic swing in prices – $3.05 in some places to $3.55 in others. AAA’s Roger Boyd with says that difference is caused by several factors.
“Basically what we see is what the market will bear [with] pricing and also with specific issues dealing with what refinery delivers to which area of the state,” said Boyd.
He says barring any unforeseen world events, gas prices should hold steady or drop slightly as we continue through the fall.
While the high cost of gas hurts most consumers, Kentucky's agriculture commissioner says farmers are especially hard-hit. James Comer says fuel costs impact every part of food production, leaving farmers with little recourse when gas prices spike.
Gas prices are getting ready to go up again in Kentucky. On July 1, the state's gas tax will increase 2.1 cents per gallon. That means motorists will be paying nearly 30 cents in Kentucky taxes for each gallon they purchase. The increase is automatic because the state's tax is tied to the average cost of wholesale gas, which has been rising.