New Lenox Mayor Calls for Gas Station Boycott

Also wants residents of S.W. Chicago suburb to stop buying fuel at surrounding stations

Published in CSP Daily News

Tim Baldermann

NEW LENOX, Ill. -- Tim Baldermann, the mayor of New Lenox, Ill., a suburb southwest of Chicago, has had enough with high gas prices in his town, and he wants to do something about it. He has called for residents to boycott the gas stations in the village, reported CBS.

It's the second time Baldermann has called for a gas station boycott. He made the same plea in April 2012.

Baldermann said gasoline prices in the village average about $3.50, higher than surrounding suburbs.

According to GasBuddy.com, stations in surrounding Joliet, Orland Park and Homer Glen mostly have lower prices than New Lenox; though prices are generally higher in Mokena.

"Our local gas stations are consistently 20, 25 cents higher per gallon than the neighboring communities," Baldermann said.

"I spoke with the gas station owners, and I asked why that was the case, and they said they only looked within the village's borders for their competition, and that our people were willing to pay it," he told the news outlet. "We have to do something. The residents have got to send a message. It's a free market, and we respect that it's a free market, but that doesn't mean that I want our residents being taken advantage of, just because of our location."

Baldermann claimed gas stations in the village have been taking advantage of being near Interstate 80 and I-355.

"In order to get to a gas station out of our town, you have to drive away from those highways and tollways, and so it's more convenient [in town], and I just think that the gas station owners will jack up the prices, and our people have no choice," he said.

Baldermann said he's willing to pay for picket signs for anyone who wants to protest at New Lenox gas stations.

Over the last year and a half, Baldermann said he has received more than 100 emails and phone calls from residents complaining about gasoline prices in town, said a report by The Chicago Tribune.

Not only is the mayor calling on his residents to avoid buying local fuel, he's asking them to boycott BP, Speedway and CITGO stations in other towns to make a broader point, said the report.

"It doesn't help if you give them money somewhere else," Baldermann said. "Try to find another alternative. There are many stations out there."

A Speedway station in New Lenox referred questions about Baldermann's call for a boycott to the company's corporate office in Ohio, where a spokeswoman declined comment.

About six months ago, Baldermann said he asked the state attorney general's office to look into the situation but received word that there was "no evidence" that the gas stations were doing anything legally wrong.

Baldermann hopes to have some relief for residents soon, in the form of a new gas station called Food & Fuel, which is getting ready to break ground in New Lenox, said the report.

And even if a boycott costs the village money from lost sales tax revenue, Baldermann said, that's OK. "If we take a little hit in the sales tax as a whole," he said, "we can handle that as long as our people get some relief."

Keywords: 
petroleum