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Gas prices drop below $2

By Ed Brock

ebrock@news-daily.com

Geraldine Sanders starting to feel a little overworked.

The price of regular unleaded gas at the Chevron gas station she manages on Ga. Highway 138 is now $1.99 a gallon. Now the customers keep coming.

“They are on the telephone to tell people that they found gas under $2,” Sanders said. “They are so glad to see it under $2.”

She's just afraid the owner may drop the price even more, Sanders said with a smile.

Local resident, Billy Smith, was one of those happy customers.

“This place, for the last couple of weeks, has been cheaper than Sam's (wholesale club,)” Smith said.

Gone are the days, at least for now, of $5 to nearly $6 a gallon for gasoline that occurred in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, though Sanders said the rush at her store has been similar. The difference is that this time drivers aren't panicking about shortages in the gas supply.

“Demand has dropped and our supply is coming back,” said Ric Cobb, spokesman for the Georgia Petroleum Council.

After Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in late August it caused damage to refineries in Louisiana and temporarily closed the pipeline that brings gasoline to the Atlanta area. At that time drivers hurried to wait for hours in line to get gas at record high prices.

The Department of Transportation is set to adjust the 4 percent sales tax on each gallon of gasoline either this month or early December, Cobb said. Previously that tax averaged out to 7.5 cents on the gallon but the recalculation, which will apply for six months, will bring it up to about 9 cents. That will combine with a 7-cent excise tax to make 16 cents of tax per gallon of gas.

“There'll be a slight increase in that,” Cobb said.

But other wise, Cobb said, he doesn't see a reason why the gas prices won't either stay level or continue to go down. At the same time he wouldn't predict how far the prices might drop.

Cobb also did not expect a spike for the Thanksgiving Day weekend that is coming up. Traditionally more people fly during that weekend, he added.

On the other hand, at the AAA Autoclub South in Morrow the number of people coming in to plan road trips is picking up after months of being slow, Manager Joyce Thompson said. She wasn't sure if that was for the low

“This week it's picked up to a feverish pitch,” Thompson said.