Commonwealth Journal

News Live

May 2, 2014

Somerset approves gas sales to public

Next step will be for City Council to purchase equipment to sell fuel at city’s bulk plant

Somerset —

City councilors have thrown their full support behind the city’s endeavor to sell gasoline to the public. 
During Monday’s Somerset City Council meeting, Resolution 14-05 was approved unanimously by the 10 councilors in attendance. The resolution authorizes the city to “ ... sign and enter into agreements for and to make purchases of the equipment necessary to allow the (c)ity to provide gasoline for sale to the public from the (c)ity’s gasoline bulk plant.”
The resolution marks the next step in the city’s move toward entering the private sector and selling gasoline to the public in an effort to lower what many have called unfair gas prices to a more regionally competitive level. 
City councilors have voiced strong concerns about the disparity, and although they expressed support for the move on Monday, they also had questions about the resulting cost to the city and its taxpayers. 
Girdler estimated that cost at less than $50,000, thanks to the city already owning a gasoline processing bulk plant and pumps. 
“We’re ready to go,” said Girdler. “Everything’s in place, there’s nobody that can stop you all. You can’t stop a lawsuit from anybody, but as far as legally, we’ve spent six months having attorneys review the process.”
Girdler on Monday was careful to avoid detailing the city’s expected gas pricing strategy, only stating that the city would seek to keep its prices on a level similar to surrounding counties and cities. 
That’s good news for many Pulaski County residents, who have complained time and again that local gas prices have, at times, soared more than 30 cents above prices in other cities and counties. 
The resolution was passed only the week after the Federal Trade Commission announced it had agreed to look into the gas price situation in Kentucky. That case reaches back to the 1990s, when the petroleum division of Ashland Oil merged with Marathon Oil to form Marathon Ashland Petroleum, LLC. Officials with Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office have said the merger resulted in a gasoline monopoly in Kentucky. 

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