County discusses gas prices, requests investigation

1243

By Josh Pike | Staff Writer

At its Sept. 6 work session, the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) discussed the high gas prices in the area and the possibility that price gouging is occurring in the county.

Commissioner Warren Brown initiated the discussion by suggesting that gas prices in the county are 70 cents higher per gallon than in Durango and roughly equivalent to Del Norte, a situation which, to him, suggests that price gouging was occurring in the county.

“I’m all about being a business and staying in business,” Brown said. “I’m not all about taking advantage of folks and I’m just telling you, I’m going to give the [Colorado attorney general’s] office a call and I’m going to see if there is some kind of a remedy that why we are paying at least 70 cents more a gallon in Pagosa Springs.”

Commissioner Ronnie Maez commented that he was “not opposed” to the course of action Brown suggested.

County Attorney Todd Weaver mentioned that the attorney general had indicated that he would investigate potential instances of price gouging and that it would potentially be valuable to submit a letter to the attorney general’s office stating the county’s concerns.

Brown commented, “You talk about things that affect people every day, this is it, and why this isn’t being published locally and this being called out and us addressing this is beyond me.”

Maez and Commissioner Alvin Schaaf agreed that, if the county could do something about the situation, it should.

Brown also related that, when he travels to La Plata County on personal business, he takes gas cans and fills them there to pay lower prices, to which Maez responded, “and that’s highway user tax that we don’t get.”

Weaver indicated that he could submit a letter to the attorney general’s office requesting that it investigate the issue.

He added that informing the public that the county was sending a letter requesting an investigation could also cause prices to drop.

“It’s surprising how that can happen,” Weaver said.

The BoCC also discussed that gas stations make money on their convenience stores, not on fuel, and that the higher prices could be due to the gas company instead.

However, the commissioners expressed they doubted this, as they believed the same company, which delivers from Farmington, N.M., delivered fuel to the entire region, including areas with lower prices.

Commissioner Alvin Schaaf commented, “And they always tell you it’s the trucking. Well, the trucking doesn’t cost an extra 70 cents from here to there. It just doesn’t.”

Weaver then stated that he would send a letter to the attorney general’s office, which he did on Sept. 7.

The letter requests an investigation into the elevated gas prices and potential price gouging in the county, highlighting that the county’s average gas prices, according to the American Automobile Association, are $4.39 per gallon, at least 30 cents higher than all neighboring counties, excepting Hinsdale County, “without explanation or reason.”

That the county requested an investigation was circulated by the county through a Sept. 7 press release.

josh@pagosasun.com