Somserset is a small town in southern Kentucky. Residents of the town have long complained of Somerset’s high gas prices.
“It’s a lot higher than the rest of the places that are 25 to 30 miles from here,”
says Jimmy Goggins, who lives in Somerset. Jenny Collier, who commutes to Somerset from out of town says that gas prices there are, “about 20 cents higher a gallon…or more.”
So Somerset decided to take a bold step: opening up the gas station that is currently used to fuel city-owned vehicles to the public, and selling the gas to Somerset citizens.
“They’re just simply ripping off the public, and they’re doing it because of greed,”
said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. The city will be purchasing their gasoline from a local refinery, pricing it 15-20 lower than what the local stations are charging now.
“We’re going to set a price, and if the companies want to equal that or go lower than that, we’ve achieved our objective… It is our economy, and we can’t allow anybody to continue to gouge us and take money away from us,”
continued Girdler. He also added that profit wasn’t the point, and that the city would likely only break even on the gas sales.
Somerset residents are predictably happy about the announcement. However, there are some who aren’t happy at all. A few days after the announcement, the Kentucky Association of Grocers and Convenience Stores spoke out against the move.
They argue that Somerset’s government is being economically anti-competitive, and also says they are out of line using public facilities to try to compete with the private sector.
For me, the integral question here is this: why are Somerset’s gas prices so high? I tried to look into this question, but so far only local Kentucky news stations have covered this story, and none of them go into detail about this question.
I did however find this comment from reddit user Bitvapors, who claims to be from Somerset:
“This is my town. They haven’t started yet, I don’t think, but gas prices around here are well over $.25/gal higher than surrounding towns and counties, so it’s a big deal.
All the shell stations around here are owned by one man and most of the other stations are serviced by his tankers, so he can pretty much charge whatever he wants.
We’ve been gouged for years, so I hope like hell he’s foaming at the mouth over this.”
Read more from WDRB Kentucky here.
Images courtesy of WDRB Kentucky.