Commonwealth Journal

News Live

October 24, 2013

Council rethinking praise for gas prices


Somerset —

During Monday’s meeting, several councilors wondered aloud whether Speedway was the first provider to “pull the trigger” and change prices. 
“Everybody I’ve talked to has said Speedway is the one who controls it,” said Minton. “I had my doubts at first, but now ...”
Consumers and officials alike, frustrated with the difference in Somerset prices compared to other areas in the state, have been quick to point the finger at Somerset-based Cumberland Lake Shell. 
But either way, no matter who changes prices first, councilors are fed up with it. 
“People let’s do something. Let’s not keep talking about it,” said Minton. “They’re sitting there stuffing money in their pockets laughing at us.”
Minton asked that the city look into operating its own gas station — a request that has been tossed around in the past.
Girdler said free market forces, when they work correctly, should encourage competition. But he said he’s not against the city forcing a sense of competition. 
“It’s wrong to gouge Pulaski County and Somerset for greed,” said Girdler. “ ... We pretty well know we can sell to the public ... it’s about finding the right station, the right location.”
Minton also asked that Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese draft an official letter to each of the local gas suppliers — Cumberland Lake Shell, Southern Petroleum, Marathon and Speedway, Kroger and Walmart (Murphy Oil) — asking for an explanation behind the gas prices. 
The other councilors seemed to be in agreement with Minton’s request.
“A 45-cent bump overnight is a little much to explain,” said Rutherford. 
“It hurts a lot of people,” said Councilor Mike New. 
The city has attempted to open communication channels with local gas providers in the past, with little luck. 
“It’s worth a try,” said Girdler. 
Councilors Linda Stringer, Jerry Girdler, Jim Mitchell and Tom Eastham didn’t attend Monday’s meeting. 

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