New Lenox residents have taken exception to higher local gas prices than neighboring communities, and Mayor Tim Baldermann is urging them to boycott stations in the village until they lower their prices.
"We preach that we want you to spend your money in town. But the only way these guys are going to get the message is if we send the message," Baldermann said. "If they will not lower their prices, then go buy your gas somewhere else."
For a while, New Lenox gas stations have been consistently charging between 5 and 20 cents more than nearby communities. Many residents emailed Patch about the disparity, and Baldermann said he contacted gas stations to get an explanation.
He said he only heard back from Speedway's corporate office, and he's appreciative they met in person with him. He's not appreciative, however, of the company's response.
"They were honest. They said it's because you people pay it," Baldermann said. "They don't care what (anyone else) is charging. They compete against the other local stations."
In New Lenox on April 23, for example, that meant $4.20/gallon at Speedway and BP New Lenox. Compare that to $4.14 at Speedways in Mokena and Frankfort, which also had cheaper gas available for $3.95/gallon. Orland Park's cheapest gas on Monday was $3.98, Manhattan's was $3.89 and Joliet Speedway locations ranged from $3.98 to $4.09, according to MapQuest and GasBuddy.com.
In a previous article, Speedway spokesman Shane Pochard told Patch that a major factor in pricing the pump is what competing stations are charging. And typically in New Lenox, most of the stations are charging the same price. Baldermann said at Monday's Village Board meeting that Speedway representatives told him they consider the competition to be within village boundaries and nowhere else.
Baldermann said this issue arose a couple of years ago, and at that time he took a similar approach in playing hardball and calling for lower prices.
"When we did this two years ago, miraculously we then had the lowest gas prices in the area," Baldermann said. "I guess we need to bark again, but more importantly the people need to bite."
The mayor wanted to drive home that he's in favor of shopping local, but not when it gets to a point that's "completely unacceptable."
I understand it's an open market and they can charge what they want. That's America," he said. "But our No. 1 responsibility is to the residents. Businesses: We're here for you, too, but not when you take advantage of our residents."