Gas station owners take a stand on high prices

Gas station owners take a stand on high prices due to Isaac

COLUMBIA TUSCULUM, OH (FOX19) - Tri-State drivers are gunning for deals as prices rise at the pump in response to oil companies pulling workers from offshore drilling rigs and cutting production at Gulf coast oil refineries.

"You never could have told me that I'd swerve through two lanes of traffic to get $3.67 cent gas," driver Doc Moon said.

Ultimately Moon decided not to get gas at the Price Hill gas station that caught his attention.

"It went up 20 cents while I was waiting in line which took it to $3.87," Moon said. "So it wasn't a deal. I just ended up not filling it up."

"We'd like our customers [to] continue coming here but the price of gas is killing us," gas station co-owner Allyn Raifstanger.

Raifstanger's Shell gas station off Delta Avenue in Columbia Tusculum sold gas for $4.25 Wednesday.

"I was absolutely dumbfounded that it's gone up yet again," driver Kory Lynn said.

Owners say the finger should not be pointed at them, however.

"Take advantage of it?!" Raifstanger questioned. "We lose. When the price is there we're losing."

"It's not Al or myself, we're not making money off of this," fellow owner Les Sturgill argued. "The state and our local fuel companies are not allowing us to make any money."

Sturgill says there has not been a profit at the pump since they took over ownership of the gas station. He argues they have no control over oil company prices.

"Whatever reason they dream up the price goes up," Sturgill said. "They'll hold it for two weeks and slowly come down. Meanwhile we suffer."

Sturgill says he would like to make a minimum of at least ten cents a gallon to sell the fuel, but says that becomes difficult once debit card processing fees, utilities, payroll, and infrastructure costs are added on.

"We should be allowed to make some money," he argued. "We employ people, we pay our insurance, we pay our taxes."

The co-owners say they cannot afford to continue to take a hit at the pump simply in hopes of getting people inside to the convenience store like many larger companies can to offset the loss.

Fed up, Raifstanger and Sturgill posted a letter to customers on the gas station door.

"We're gonna post what we pay for fuel we'll post in our window and people can see exactly what we're paying," Raifstanger said. "They can see what our mark up is and where the dollars and cents go."

"Maybe if they see this they'll understand," Sturgill said.

Driver Kory Lynn admits that, like many drivers, he does not know the formula that produces the price.

"I think I'm one of probably a lot of people that don't fully understand why gas prices keep going up," Lynn said.

Once he read the sign he was sympathetic to the gas station's position.

"It just trickles down and we just blame who we have immediate contact with which is unfortunately these people right here so, I'm sorry," Lynn said.

FOX19 also reached out to Terry Fleming, the Executive Director of the Ohio Petroleum Council. Fleming says the main reason for the price increase is the shutdown of offshore platforms in anticipation of Isaac as a safety precaution. Fleming says a lot of the price change is based on potential shortages. Fleming is hopeful the rising fuel costs will be a short-term issue assuming barges on the Mississippi are not affected.

Fleming says often when drivers rush to top off their tanks prior to an event like Isaac, they end up having the opposite effect of what they intend by impacting demand.

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