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Unpredictable Fuel Prices Upset Business and Local Government Budgets

By Rhonda Miller | Published 18 May 2011 03:50pm | comments
Mart Windham of Waring Oil Company in Biloxi says volatile fuel prices make budgeting difficult.

One day you fill up your tank and gas is heading toward $4 a gallon. A few days later, it’s down to $3.70. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports whatever is going on with fuel, it’s causing chaos in our towns, our businesses and our wallets.

Fred Lumbert of Biloxi is at his usual gas station. So far, gas prices haven’t kept him from driving a lot to visit family out-of-state. But Lumbert says, when it comes to gas prices, there’s a limit.

"I don’t think they should go up to four dollars a gallon," Lumbert says. "And I don’t understand why they should fluctuate so quickly."

Mart Windham of Waring Oil Company in Biloxi says prices are only good for 24 hours, so when a gas station buys fuel, it’s stuck with the cost.

"That’s why you see such a fluctuation, from one town to the next, or even one corner to the next," Windham says. "You might see one station at $3.79 and one at $3.59, which is what you’re seeing today. One bought on the low day, one bought on the high day."

Windham says there’s no way to tell which direction the cost is going.

"In my 15 years of experience in this industry, most of the time fuel would move half-a-cent, a quarter-of-a-cent, a penny a day, up or down," Windham says. "Recently, we have seen 20-cents-a gallon increases or decreases from day- to-day."

Windham says it’s nearly impossible to budget fuel in advance.

"I have some that want a 30-day firm bid. I have school systems on the Gulf Coast that quote daily," Windham says.

In Jackson County, the Mississippi Press reports the Sheriff’s Department uses about 600 gallons of fuel per day and needs an additional $250,000 for its fuel budget this fiscal year.

Some experts are predicting a drop in fuel prices this summer. But Mart Windham at Waring Oil says, when it comes to the price of fuel, nothing is certain.

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Mart Windham of Waring Oil Company in Biloxi says volatile fuel prices make budgeting difficult.


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