Gas prices see more than 40-cent decrease in two months

A sign at the BP station in West Quincy, Mo., advertises gas for $3.18 a gallon Monday afternoon. Gasoline prices have dropped steadily over the past four weeks, and are expected to continue to fall. (H-W Photo/Phil Carlson)
Posted: Dec. 11, 2012 8:46 am Updated: Jan. 1, 2013 10:03 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Gasoline prices have steadily decreased more than 40 cents in the past two months, and people such as Jeff Laaker, manager of Gem City Pizzeria and Mexican, have felt the impact.

“It was kind of tough this summer when it got up to about $4 a gallon,” Laaker said.

In Missouri, prices averaged $3.046 per gallon on Monday, according to figures from the American Auto Club.

At the Palmyra Pick-A-Dilly on South Main Street, prices hit as low as $3.10 today. In Quincy, prices at some gas stations dipped to 3.29, which was below the national average of $3.34 and the Illinois average of $3.447.

National averages climbed to around $3.90 in April before dwindling to around $3.30 in July. Prices jumped toward $4 throughout the latter part of the summer.

Laaker hadn’t noticed an increase or decrease with number of deliveries, but high fuel prices earlier this year impacted the cost of his ingredients. Even though prices have decreased, Gem City still pays substantially for transportation costs, and Laaker’s pizza prices can’t fluctuate the way gasoline prices do. People will only pay so much for a pizza.

“Meat and cheese are pretty high right now,” Laaker said. “A lot of that is reflected on transportation, which is passed on to me ... It’s gone up anyway, but it costs more to haul.”

Marty Stegeman, interim director of Quincy Transit Line, said the recent dip in prices has saved $6,400 this month. He said the budget plans for the prices to be unpredictable.

“When you spend more early on for fuel prices, you hope it balances out at the end of the year,” Stegeman said. “We’ll take every penny discount we can get.”

When gas prices climb, so does the amount of passengers Quincy Transit carries. Temperatures also impact the number of patrons. With gas prices declining, Stegeman said QTL has seen a 1,200-rider decrease from October to November.

“I wish I had that crystal ball out there and could guess, but we’ll take it every time they drop down in price,” Stegeman said.

Adams County Sheriff Brent Fischer said his department has yet to notice the decrease.

“Our phone doesn’t stop ringing,” Fischer said. “I think our calls have increased (and) it can be detrimental as far as expenses go.”

Like Stegeman, Fischer said the cost typically balances out by the end of the year, even if the prices themselves are difficult to predict.

Those with diesel powered engines haven’t seen the same decrease that gasoline-powered automobiles have.

Paul Davis, director of the Adams County Ambulance Service, said diesel fuel has yet to drop as dramatically. Monday’s national diesel average was $3.915 per gallon. Last month it averaged $4.007.  

“Hopefully diesel trends will follow gasoline prices and continue to go down,” Davis said. “To speculate on fuel prices at this point would be anybody’s guess.”