You may never have heard of Somerset, KY, and that's fine.  But you're going to start hearing a lot about them because of a decision local officials made to help its 11,320 residents save money.  They're going into the gasoline business.

Officials in Somerset say they expect the city to start selling gasoline to the public in a couple of weeks. Economic development business coordinator George Wilson told The Commonwealth Journal  that the city has ordered the equipment it needs. He says it should arrive in the next couple of weeks and will take a few days to set up. 

City officials decided to start offering gas to the public after getting complaints about high fuel prices in the area...

Wilson says the city plans to purchase the gas from Somerset-based Continental Refining Company and prices will be based on an average of how much cities within a 50-miles radius are charging. Mayor Eddie Girdler has said the city’s gas would cost less than what’s currently offered at stations around town.

Wilson says the setup will be simple. 

“Somerset won’t sell cigarettes or anything else, only regular gasoline, at the kiosk,” said Wilson. “An attendant will be on duty, probably from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., maybe later, to allow customers to pay by cash or credit card. Gasoline will be available at the pumps 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using credit cards.

Will it work?  It seems like there are many unanswered questions.  Does a business model exist that shows the town could run the operation profitably?  If the business is funded by the local tax base and it sustains a loss, how long can taxpayers be expected to subsidize the losses?  Is it legal for a municipality to operate as a retailer?   Stay tuned!