By Judy Pack
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen business owner David Wooldridge is feeling the pinch of record-high gasoline prices as regular unleaded gas hit the $2 mark at area gas stations.
Wooldridges business, Day In Day Out Lawn Care, includes six pickup trucks that pull trailers loaded with lawn care equipment. All day, every day.
Our season has started off with the rain and grass has grown fast, he said. Our consumption of gas is up 30 percent because weve started mowing earlier, but its costing us an additional 25 cents per gallon of gas. Ive got five or six trucks on the road that get mileage in the single digits. Even at 10 miles per gallon, they pull trailers with lawn equipment, and all of the lawn equipment uses gas, too. The increases have been very detrimental to our business.
Most area gas stations increased prices on Friday and Saturday. While the national average for regular self-serve gasoline also set a new record of $2.072 a gallon Monday, prices locally have remained lower than most cities in the state.
The average statewide price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline also broke new ground at $1.978, according to Rose Rougeau, spokesperson for AAA-Texas.
Karen Walinder, owner of Mickeys Convenience Stores in Killeen, said their business increased the price of regular self-serve gasoline from $1.97 to $2 on Friday.
In the last part of last week, our last three deliveries of gas had three- and two-cent increases for a total of seven cents last week, Walinder said. We have gotten no insight from Chevron as to whats happening with the prices.
Walinder said she wouldnt know what the cost of the next shipment of gas will be until it arrived around 3:30 p.m. Monday.
On Monday evening, prices of regular gas at several Mickeys stores were posted at $2.03 per gallon.
The record-breaking crude oil prices pushed pump prices to new all-time records last week as the cost of crude oil rose from $55 to $57 per barrel. Monday trading leveled out as some investors adopted more of a wait and see attitude, but experts predict prices will continue to rise.
Last Tuesday, AAA-Texas recorded the current Texas monthly average price for regular self-serve gasoline was $1.947, being the highest monthly average price ever recorded by the association. The price had increased 16.7 cents from the last months average of $1.780 a gallon, Rougeau said.
No one was cheering as the average price reached a second record-breaking price on Friday of $1.962, according to Rougeau, who also noted that the statewide average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline broke new ground at $1.962, up 6.2 cents from last weeks average of $1.918 a gallon.
John Gilmore, manager for Big Chief Distributors in Killeen, said he had been expecting the increases at the pumps, although he was out of town last week and did not monitor the costs of incoming trucks bringing fuel to Killeen.
I have been watching the cost of crude oil prices, and when they go from $54.50 to over $56 a barrel, you know its only a matter of time, he said.
Wooldridge, who has been in business for 15 years, said he cant adjust the prices of his lawn services too much more or customers wont be able to afford them. His clients who are older and on fixed incomes would be hit especially hard if he had to increase his rates.
I cant send them another bill that says Im about to go up on what I charge them, he said.
Wooldridge said his employees are being as cost-efficient as possible. At the peak of the business season, he has 30 employees. For the time being, he said, he will maintain the current prices and concentrate on doing a large volume of business. He said it is too early to talk about other cost-cutting measures.
I have 12-month contracts with large apartment complexes, he said. If gasoline goes to $3 a gallon, I still have to mow the grass.
Contact Judy Pack at firstname.lastname@example.org