AAA predicts record gas prices

By Ed Brock

The most recent increase in gas prices is certainly on the mind of Clayton County drivers like Kenneth Allen.

"It does make you think about where you're going," said Allen of Forest Park. "If I don't have to go I don't unless the money's right."

The average price of regular unleaded gasoline in Georgia has increased five cents since June to an average of $1.39 a gallon, according to the AAA Auto Club South. That reflects the still increasing price of crude oil that now stands at $31 a barrel.

"It's an extra $7 a week," said Kathleen Jordan of Jonesboro, putting the increase into a personal perspective.

Nature and politics have a hand in the rising prices, AAA Senior Vice President for Public and Government Relations Kevin Bakewell said in a statement.

"Higher gasoline prices also underscore the fact that Iraq's return to the world oil market appears to be further away than initially projected," Bakewell said. "Consumers may end up paying among the highest prices on record for gasoline this summer due to Iraq not having returned to the world oil market, temporary disruption of refining and petroleum shipping due to Hurricane Claudette and the continued need for reformulated (cleaner-burning) fuels that are required during the summer months."

Again, the Atlanta area had the most expensive gasoline in all categories in the AAA Monthly Fuel Gauge Report at $1.411 a gallon for regular unleaded. That's still below the national average of $1.517 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

The Clayton County Commission buys gasoline wholesale for its vehicles, so price increases don't usually affect the budget too much, Commission Chairman Crandle Bray said. But if the price increase becomes too drastic that might change and some county employees may be asked to decrease their driving.

"Of course the police department is a different situation because we have to patrol," county police Capt. Jeff Turner said.

The same can be said about the Clayton County Sheriff's Office.

"We'll just have to watch it and see what it does to the budget," Sheriff Stanley Tuggle said.

In the private sector, the cost of a taxi ride may also go up.

"(The drivers) have the option of adding a $1 surcharge to pay for gas if they have to," said Danny Nation with City Cab Company of Forest Park. "If you make 10 trips in a day that's $10 for gas."

As for whether or not the rising gas prices have affected the taxi business so far, Nation said business has been slow for the past two years, anyway.