BLOOMINGTON — Gas prices are inching closer to $3 a gallon, which is not a surprise to industry analysts or to some Twin City customers.
“Remember that time it was around $1.80 per gallon?” asked Nicole Mullins of Bloomington, as she filled her tank Thursday morning with gas priced at $2.85 per gallon at Huck's, 2401 S. Main St., Bloomington. “I was willing to drive around a little bit more in those days. Now, not so much.”
A survey of gas stations around Bloomington-Normal indicated gasoline was selling between $2.83 and $2.97 per gallon on Thursday. According to Gasbuddy.com, the average McLean County price on Thursday was $2.92 per gallon.
The average price in Decatur was $2.87, and in Mattoon, it was $2.75, reported Gasbuddy.com.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for the website, said Illinois gas prices have risen about 5 cents a gallon in the last week, averaging about $2.90 throughout the state.
That figure is about 23 cents a gallon higher than a month ago, and 17.5 cents per gallon more than a year ago.
Illinois prices are among the highest in the country right now, but California is the leader at $4.03 per gallon, according to AAA.
“The seemingly never-ending streak of rising gasoline prices has largely continued unabated across the country over the last week,” said DeHaan. “Gas prices continue to drift higher, although the pace has slowed somewhat in the last week.”
Statewide over the past five years, prices have remained above $2 per gallon, but below $3 per gallon at this point in the year.
A year ago, the average price in Illinois was $2.73 per gallon. In 2017, it was $2.50 per gallon; in 2016, it was $2.21 per gallon; and $2.57 in 2015. Prior to that, gasoline prices were even higher in late April, averaging between $3.01 (2010) and reaching a high of $4.08 per gallon in 2011.
The slow rise in prices is natural in the spring, as refineries move to spring- and summer-grade blends.
However, in Bloomington, prices are expected to inch up next week when an increase in the local motor fuel tax jumps from 4 cents to 8 cents. The hike, approved March 25 by the Bloomington City Council, goes into effect Wednesday. The Normal City Council has discussed, but not acted, on a similar proposal.
“I am coming back Tuesday for a fill-up then,” said Barb Courson of Bloomington, while also at at Huck's on Thursday. “I almost forgot about that, but that’s just going to drive the prices up even further.”
Bob Hildebrandt of Bloomington predicts the 4-cent jump will not necessarily mean a 4-cent jump.
“I’ve never seen them increase gas by just 4 cents,” he said. “They will probably hike it much more than that and you won’t find it any cheaper in Normal, either.”
Several owners and managers at Bloomington stations declined comment or referred questions to corporate headquarters on the upcoming potential for increases in relation to the tax hike.
The 4-cent increase is expected to generate an additional $2.3 million annually for city street repairs, said Bloomington officials.