Gas prices in most places in the Downingtown and Coatesville areas have reached $3.00 a gallon for regular gas. It is approximately up .16 cents in just a week. Prices are up from $2.21 since last year. Community residents and businesses are still in sticker shock, but continue to bite the bullet.
Coatesville Army & Navy local retail storeowner Judy Skolnick said her store has not yet felt the monetary effects on her business yet. Skolnick said, "If it continues, I am sure I will (feel it)." Her customers can travel from West Chester and Parkesburg to make purchases. Although her sales have not slowed down, she has noticed more customers calling to make sure merchandise is in stock before they make the trip to her store.
Local governments are not immune from feeling the gasoline crunch, but they will have a delayed reaction from the rest of us. Caln Township Manager Greg Prowant said they needed to re-open their budget last fall in 2005 to make adjustments to account for higher gas prices then. It's possible it could happen again this coming fall. Prowant said, "The township police department's gas budget is now 1/3 higher over last year's budget."
West Brandywine Township Police Chief Walt Werner said their township is part of the county consortium that makes bulk gas purchases; they are on a yearly contract, which is up in the fall. When asked what he would cut in the budget if gas prices increased much further, Werner said, "There is no place to cut back. The budget is close to the bone." He insisted he would not cut back on police patrols or other law enforcement areas. He added, "We would just bite the bullet" and pay for the gas.
West Brandywine Township Public Works Director Tom Eells said the township gasoline contract comes up for review this July; and with contracted bulk pricing, the township is paying half of what the public is paying at the pumps. His budget uses more diesel fuel than regular gasoline and is paying half of what the public is paying at the current market prices. Eells said, "Diesel fuel price for township equipment has increased 30 percent over the last year's gasoline prices."
Downingtown Area School District Communications Specialist Pat McGlone said buses travel 11,000 miles a day throughout, but fortunately for them, they have purchased fixed-rate gasoline prices since last March. They will need a new contract effective July 1. She is expecting a large increase over last year's budget. She is not able to guess at the proposed increase for next year.
Coatesville Area School District's Chief Financial Officer Ken Luppold stated Krapf bus company's contract currently has absorbed the gasoline costs. Last year, the district had to pay a $25,000 penalty because gas prices had gone over a pre-negotiated trigger point. This year CASD and Krapf Bus Company had negotiated another formula for gas payment. If the district had kept last year's formula, Luppold said, "The district would have paid "$150,000 in additional costs. Luppold expects to renegotiate another new formula to account for increasing gasoline prices.
Downingtown's Bravo restaurant co-owner Giovanni Case, said gas prices have effected his business some. He saw immediate jumps in some food supplies like cheese and meats. People are still coming into his restaurant, but gas prices have effected him personally. He has seen the gas going up and it is impacting his discretionary income.
Thorndale's Acme Markets said gas prices are effecting their company. Acme spokesperson Walter Rubley said the cost of gasoline will affect food prices eventually. The company absorbs costs initially but eventually those costs will be passed onto consumers. The company has no other choice.
Shumakersville resident Kevin Kline, working in the area, said gas prices are effecting his family. Kline said, "I drive 50 miles one way to work." He is conserving gas by cutting down on the amount of car trips he is making as a way to handle the gas crunch.
Coatesville resident Tosha Williames is a mom with three kids. About rising gas prices Wiliames said, "It's terrible!" Her family owns two cars, but is only using one at the moment. She said, "The truck is too expensive."
If gas prices continue rising, she feels she would need to cut out a well-planned family vacation to Florida. Her family this year was in the unusual situation and had planned to go on two vacations, one to Florida and another to Myrtle Beach. A part of the plan for Florida was to drive with a rented van with a firm gas budget. If gas prices increase too much above the budget, Williames says she would be forced to cancel their plans to Florida this year.
Nineteen-year old Downingtown resident Julia Bellam said "I'm not driving as much anymore." She is only going back and forth to work, home and school. She is also conserving gas by getting all the errand driving completed in one day instead of making smaller, more frequent trips. She drives a small car with good gas mileage and realizes her expenses could be worse. "The gas prices," Bellam said, "It's cut a lot into my life." If gas prices would rise further, she said "I would start walking to work. I don't want to work just to put gas in my tank."