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Gas on the rise
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People waiting for financial relief at the gas pump might not want to hold their breath.

According to several experts and local citizens, gas prices dont appear to be decreasing anytime soon.

When our dollars value is low, caused by the Federal Reserve creating money, American dollars will not buy as much foreign oil, raising gas prices, explained John Scott, associate professor of economics at North Georgia College & State University in Dahlonega.

Tensions in the Middle East, highlighted by the recent veiled threats by the Iranians to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, cause oil companies and investors to want more oil now, since later it might be scarce, he continued.

The average price for gas in Georgia is $3.41, rising 4.7 cents a gallon in the past week according to a Jan. 23 news release from GasBuddy.com.

As of presstime, gas prices were $3.45 at both the Kangaroo Express and BP in downtown Dawsonville.

It affects everybodys budget, resident Gail Lowman said, filling up her truck at Kangaroo Express on Jan. 23. I dont travel much, but it affects everything.

Resident Elizabeth Canup drives to Atlanta three days a week for her nursing job at Emory University Hospital Midtown. She stops at the gas station nearly every day as she doesnt allow her gas tank to get below half a tank.

Its increased by $20 or more, she said about her gas bill.

Businesses also have had to take rising gas prices into account. Michael Miles, communications director for the Atlanta district of the United States Postal Service, which covers Dawson County and the rest of north Georgia, said the increase in gas prices has affected mail service, too.

The Dawson County Post Office, he said, has 16 routes, three of them serviced by personal vehicles. In total, the Dawson County routes cover approximately 1,400 miles a day, he said, explaining how the routes also include parts of Pickens, Forsyth, Lumpkin and Cherokee counties. The county makes more than 10,000 deliveries a day.

Miles did not have numbers specific to Dawson County, but said that nationwide in 2010, the USPS used approximately 650 million gallons of gasoline at a cost of $1.7 billion.

[Gas prices] do impact us, he said. According to Miles, the USPS has done testing on the West Coast and in Florida with more fuel-efficient vehicles.

On a local note, Berg said that gas prices do play a role in creating the county budget. It has to be accounted for, he said. It was one of the three items that I mentioned in budget discussions that have risen. Weve had to rearrange our budget because of it.

Berg explained that Dawson has joined a consortium with four other counties, which has helped to save on costs.

Its hard to allocate for gas because it goes up and down, he said. Its so volatile.

For Dawson residents, Berg cited Kroger and the soon-to-open RaceTrac as good for customers.

Thats another opportunity to save money, he said, noting that competition is good for keeping costs down.

While television news programs have reported that gas prices could continue to rise up to $5 a gallon during the summer, Scott advises caution before becoming too concerned.

Within a year, he said, it is common for gas prices to fluctuate by about $1. There is no consistent yearly profile.

It remains to be seen how much gas prices will continue to increase in 2012, but resident Connie Strickland sums up how a lot of people feel when planning their budgets for the coming months.

You just want to be more careful with how much you spend, she said.

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