Gas prices have plunged some 42 cents in two weeks statewide, although the price of a fill up in Payson remains more than 10 percent above the state average.
Nationwide, the price for unleaded regular on Oct. 21 hit $2.89; statewide it was $3.02, according to a survey published by the American Automobile Association (AAA).
A survey of gas stations in Payson found an average price of about $3.25 per gallon. The Mobil station at the casino was charging $3.39 a gallon for unleaded regular, but all the other stations in town surveyed charged either $3.23 or $3.25.
As prices have plunged nationally, pump prices have remained higher in the Rim Country — almost taunting motorists and small-business owners.
LaForge Towing owner Earl LaForge said he pays no attention to gas prices because he has to buy it no matter what it costs. Fueling his seven tow trucks costs $12,000 a month.
He recently tacked on a $1 surcharge for every mile, making it $4.50 per mile, to keep up with the high fuel prices.
“The only way to keep up is to pass the costs on to the consumer,” LaForge said.
The recent drop in price helped business a little, but it is still down from a year ago.
“Nobody is traveling, so business is down a lot from last year and my fuel costs are up,” LaForge said.
LaForge understands the gas business. His family owned and operated a Chevron gas station for more than 20 years in Payson. Gas was tanked in from the Valley and the Chevron Corporation set the prices, not him.
“People would call up all the time complaining, but I told them call Chevron, they set the prices,” LaForge said. “It’s not like the old days, with mom-and-pop shops who could set their own prices.”
According to AAA, gas prices fell because of lower crude prices and waning demand.
Statewide, averages fell to a six-month low of $3.02 for regular, a drop of 42 cents from two weeks ago.
Nationwide, drivers are paying $2.89 per gallon, as of Oct. 21, which included a drop of 3 cents from just the day before.
A month ago, average national prices stood at $3.75 — still down from the peak of $4.19 on July 17. One year ago, national prices stood at $2.82, according to the AAA survey.
Drivers in Hawaii paid the highest price in the nation at $3.79. California came in second at $3.29. On the other hand, drivers in Oklahoma enjoyed prices averaging $2.45.