Retailers with older gasoline pumps that can’t display a price past $3.99 a gallon are getting a reprieve from a state mandate to upgrade those pumps. Since it’s expensive and there’s a backlog on parts, those gas stations will be allowed to show prices by the half-gallon for another year.
State Senator Tom Rielly, a Democrat from Oskaloosa, says he and other legislative Democrats worked with Republican Iowa Ag Secretary Bill Northey to get the break for retailers. Rielly says, "I’m really pleased that we’re able to put aside any differences that we have and we’re working together, and as a result of that, the Department of Agriculture has agreed that Iowa retailers are going to be able to display prices by the half-gallon at least until July of 2009."
He says rural gas retailers often don’t have the cash flow to afford the expensive pump upgrades. Plus, there’s a 60-to-90-day backlog on the equipment needed to upgrade older pumps. Rielly says the reprieve will remove one level of unnecessary stress on those gas station owners.
"We’re concerned about small business owners and we wanted to work with them and give them a little bit of time to make their changes to their pumps." Despite what some folks might think, Rielly says the small gas retailers aren’t reaping big profits from the high pump prices.
He says they’re not making the big bucks, in fact, they’re often losing money at the gas pump and actually make their money from selling chips, candy and drinks inside the store. Rielly says the historic round of storms and floods that have hit the state are making things tough all over.
Reilly says: "This is hard times for everybody and now’s not the time for big government to put the screws to anybody. Now’s the time we need to work together." He says retailers who sell gas by the half-gallon must make it very clear on the pump that the price displayed is per half-gallon.