GIRARD — Oil prices have dropped significantly nationwide in recent weeks, with the coronavirus crisis keeping people at home and slowing economic activity in general. Locally, however, some are concerned that gas prices in Crawford County seem relatively high compared to other nearby Kansas counties.
Commissioner Tom Moody brought up the issue at Friday’s Crawford County Commission meeting.
“I had a call the other day from an elderly gentleman asking about gas prices — which of course we have nothing to do with. But he did bring up a good point as to why gas prices are more expensive in Crawford County as opposed to our neighboring counties,” Moody said, adding that he understands prices in Missouri may be lower because of differences in state laws and regulations.
“Yeah but Cherokee [County] was like $1.11 here, or maybe is now, I don’t know, in Columbus,” said Commissioner Bruce Blair.
“We went down 10 cents yesterday to $1.55,” Moody said. “But I don’t know who we would talk to about that or where we would go for that information.”
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office “has sent letters out to businesses and individuals that are quote-unquote ‘profiting’ off of the COVID situation, and they’re the office that would handle anything like that,” County Counselor Jim Emerson said, adding that he could let Schmidt’s office know there were some Crawford County residents with concerns about the issue.
Blair said he had also been asked about gas prices by his constituents.
Commissioner Jeremy Johnson similarly indicated that “price gouging and profiteering” during the coronavirus crisis would be a concern for him.
“This is actually new territory for the commission, because I’ve never been asked that before,” Moody said, but the person who asked him about it “had some valid points.”
The commission did not formally make a motion or take a vote on whether to file a price gouging complaint with the attorney general’s office but seemed to indicate they would like Emerson to do so.
The attorney general’s office now has a “Price Gouging and Coronavirus Scams Investigative Request” form on its website that can be submitted online. Emerson said Monday he had not yet filed a complaint or submitted an investigative request but was planning to follow up on the matter.