Gasoline cost keeps going up

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 24, 2004

Gas prices that are inching rapidly toward the $2 per gallonmark have area residents concerned as summer opens and vacationsbegin.

“It’s going to be rough on people taking vacations this summer,”said Brookhaven Alderman Terry L. Bates while fueling his truck ata pump Friday. “I hear a lot of talk about gas prices even frompeople who take short trips. It’s really hard on those who drivefor a living.”

Gas prices in Brookhaven ranged from $1.87 to $1.95 per gallonover the weekend, but store owners predicted they would surge overthe $2 mark, probably before Memorial Day weekend.

“I think they’ll go up a little bit more before it begins todecrease,” said Valerie Smith, who manages the C-Store on Highway51. “I think it’ll be $2 or more before it levels off.”

Bates said he believes the higher prices will have a negativeimpact on the number of people traveling this summer, but he doesnot intend to postpone a Memorial Day weekend trip to the GulfCoast.

“I know it’s going to cost me more in traveling, but sometimesyou just have to get away,” he said.

Judy Smith of Brookhaven said even leveling off the soaringprices would help immensely as she put $7 in regular gasoline inher pickup truck.

“That won’t even budge the needle,” she said. “I hope somethinghappens soon.”

Most residents blame the war in Iraq as the primary reason forthe increases, but some are beginning to become skeptical that thewar is the reason prices continue to rise.

“At first I thought it might be because of the war, but I don’tbelieve that now,” Valerie Smith said. “And I don’t think there’s ashortage. It’s definitely not that. I think someone has seen anopportunity to make more money, and they’re taking advantage ofthat.”

Valerie Smith blamed people up the oil production line ratherthan the retailers for the increases.

“The local stores don’t make much off gas regardless of it’spricing,” she said. “Low gas prices are used to entice customersinto the store in the hopes they’ll buy other things. So, high gasprices hurt us too.”

In addition, she said, convenience store employees suffer justas much from high gas pricing because many work for minimumwage.

“They need to raise the minimum wage if these prices are goingto continue,” Valerie Smith said. “It’s hurting everyone who worksfor minimum wage badly.”

Judy Smith agreed with Valerie Smith that the war started theincreases, and she also believes that other factors have kept themfrom leveling off or decreasing. She cited inflation and theeconomy as the main reasons, however.

She noted that many items have been increasing in pricerecently, noting that milk has increased .50-.60 cents in the pastmonth. Other necessary items seem to be feeling the pinch aswell.

“It seems they’re going up on the things they know we have tohave,” she said.