Expensive living raises fuel costs | VailDaily.com

Expensive living raises fuel costs

Tamara Miller
Preston Utley/Vail NewsFuel prices in Eagle County have reached almost $2.60 a gallon for unleaded fuel.

EAGLE COUNTY – Summit County has plenty to offer to Eagle Countians: Different hiking trails, more affordable shopping and most of all, more affordable gas.While gas in Vail on Tuesday was about $2.55 for a gallon of unleaded, motorists could fill up in Summit County for about $2.30 a gallon. Steve Kirkpatrick of Eagle-Vail said he tries to use the price difference to his advantage. “When I do go to Summit County, I try to go with an empty tank,” he said. Still, he wonders why it’s so much more expensive over here. Isn’t it just as hard to deliver gas to mountainous Eagle County as it is to mountainous Summit County? It’s enough to make a local resident cynical.

“I think when one (gas station) raises the price by five cents they all get on the phone,” Kirkpatrick said. Local gas station owners say that’s not the case. Rather, they point to Eagle County’s higher rents, higher wages and higher cost of doing business as reasons for the high gas prices. As the price for oil continues to hover around $55 a barrel, Vail Amoco owner George Brodin has had to raise his fuel prices. He’s not making any more money by doing it, he said. His profit margin is about 10 percent, which is much lower than the 25 percent profit he made on gas several years ago. “The land is always expensive here, so rents are higher,” Brodin said. “To get a pulse and heartbeat costs $10 an hour.”Gas usually is more expensive in rural areas where there is less competition, said Mary Greer, spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association, better known by its acronym, AAA. Eagle County gas stations also have to pay more to have fuel delivered to the mountains because the closest oil refinery is in Denver.

“In communities where the cost of living is high the cost of doing business is higher,” Greer said. Summit County isn’t a cheap place to live, but it’s less expensive than Eagle County. Brodin said he knows many local residents drive over to Summit County to fill up. “I don’t blame them a bit,” he said. Eagle Countians frequently fill up at the Sav-O-Mat Gas & Convenience Store in Silverthorne, said John Bervied, the store’s manager. The price for unleaded at his store on Tuesday was $2.21 a gallon. “We keep the lowest prices,” he said, adding that his company’s corporate office sets the price for gas, not him.

Performance Automotive Center in Eagle still tries to compete, said Ty Sterkel, co-owner. His gas station is located several blocks away from the I-70 interchange on Chambers Avenue and is consistently a nickel cheaper per gallon than most places in Eagle.”The reason we are cheaper is we are not in the best location, so we have to cut the price to try to keep the business up,” Sterkel said. Staff Writer Tamara Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or tmiller@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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