Kentucky City Battles High Gas Prices with Public Fuel Center

iStock/Thinkstock(SOMERSET, Ky.) -- City officials in Somerset, Kentucky, about 70 miles south of Lexington, have responded to "big business" by opening a taxpayer-supported gas station for the public with the stated purpose of driving down pump prices.

The Somerset Fuel Center opened last weekend with 10 nozzles and a sale price of $3.36 a gallon for regular gas. The price is only a few cents cheaper than nearby private gas stations, but reports indicate that the competitors have lowered their prices in response.

Mayor Eddie Girdler told ABC News affiliate WBKO that gas prices traditionally increase 20 to 30 cents on the weekend in his city.

"If government doesn't do it to protect the public, then who does it?" Girlder told WBKO. "It's the role of government to protect us from big business."

Girdler could not be reached for further comment.

He told the Washington Post, “We don’t care if we don’t sell a drop of gasoline. Our objective is to lower the price.”

The city's investment included $200,000 to buy a fuel storage facility and less than $75,000 to convert it into a retail business, Girdler told the Post.

While some Somerset drivers applauded the move to lower gas prices, others criticized it as overreaching the government's authority.

“They’ve used the taxpayer money that I have paid them over these years to do this, to be against us,” Duane Adams, a convenience store owner in Somerset, told the Post. “I do not see how they can’t see that as socialism.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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