By Holly Wise

The Cove Herald

The Texas statewide average for the cost of gasoline was reported by AAA Texas at $3.08 a gallon last week, but that would be cheap compared to what local residents are having to dish out to fill their tanks. In three days, a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline rose 20 cents in Copperas Cove, from $3.19 on Tuesday to $3.39 Thursday.

The increase is a result of growing concern about the stability in the Middle East oil supplies because of protests and unrest in Libya, according to AAA Texas.

The United States imports about 50,000 barrels of oil from Libya a day.

While political unrest rages on a time zone different from ours, Copperas Cove residents and business owners are feeling the impact.

Pat Page, co-owner of Cove Taxi, said the company is absorbing the extra cost and customers will not see an increase in rates right now. The drivers, however, are taking a hit because they're responsible to pay for their own gas.

"That really takes a big chunk out of their pay right now," Page said.

If gas prices continue to rise, the rates could increase, she added.

"If the prices go over $4 a gallon, we'll implement a $1 fuel surcharge per run," she said. "That helps the drivers pay for their own gas."

Robert Ator, director of urban operations for HOP, said the increase in fuel prices affects the budget, but some of it has been planned for.

"We plan on some increases, and it fluctuates some," he said. "Short of something really dramatic, we think we're in a tolerable position to get through this."

While organizations like HOP have accounted for budget increases for fuel, residents are making adjustments of their own.

At an Exxon station in Copperas Cove, Tera Chon was filling up her husband's car.

"The only difference is I'm driving my husband's car instead of mine," she said. His gets better gas mileage.

The financial crunch of increased gas prices extends to those who are trying to find jobs.

Wendy Riggs, career center supervisor with the Texas Workforce Solutions, said she encourages people to look outside their immediate area when job searching.

"That's all well and good, but when gas prices are now over $3 a gallon, and you have to travel to Austin for an interview, or just to put in an application, it makes it much more difficult," she said. "Trying to find a job when your gas expense is increasing is difficult."

Copperas Cove City Manager Andrea Gardner said the price of fuel projections "are not indicating an issue with the FY 2011 budget, however, a large factor will be the rising fuel cost and the level it reaches over the remaining seven months."

Next year's budget will be under discussion soon by the City Council and an issue to talk about is fuel prices.

"For FY 2012, I can certainly see the need to consider the rising fuel cost from an operational viewpoint and the matter will be discussed with council during the budget planning session scheduled for April 11 and 12," she said in an e-mail to the Cove Herald.

The Copperas Cove Independent School District is shouldering the additional fuel costs.

"Right now, regardless of the gas prices, those funds are already budgeted for this school year so we adjust for the inflation of prices," said Katie Rudesheim, CCISD public information officer. "But obviously for next school year when we build the budget, we're still watching the Legislature and watching for any decision they make."

The state allocates money to school districts to cover fuel costs, but that amount hasn't changed since 1984, she added.

On March 4, 2010, AAA Texas reported motorists paid $2.57 a gallon for unleaded regular.

Contact Holly Wise at or (254)501-7474.

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