Off the Northway: N.Y. hurt less by gas prices than many

Next time you’re grumbling while filling your gas tank, be glad you don’t live in Mississippi.

Next time you’re grumbling while filling your gas tank, be glad you don’t live in Mississippi.

It’s not just hot there, it’s the poorest state in the nation — but gasoline is only slightly cheaper there. It’s a rural state, too, so mass transit is irrelevant to most people.

A new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council listed Mississippi tops in a ranking of where residents spent the biggest share of their income on fuel, making them the most vulnerable to price hikes.

According to the study, Mississippians spent an average of $2,700 on gas in 2008, or 9 percent of the median income, to keep their wheels rolling.

Montana ranks second — but you knew there had to be a few drawbacks to living in “Big Sky Country.”

New York rated 49th, with NRDC saying that the average New Yorker spends just 3.44 percent of their income on gas.

On average, New Yorkers are richer than Mississippians, of course — and there’s also a lot of mass transit in and around its big cities, including Albany-Schenectady-Troy.

Separately, the council rated New York state sixth-best in the nation in efforts to reduce petroleum use and promote clean energy technologies.

That’s nice, but it’s information the NRDC offers to make a point.

“This report shows how important it is for states to promote clean energy policies that will reduce our dependence on oil, while also reducing global warming pollution,” said Deron Lovaas, NRDC’s transportation policy director.

Shelter bidding

Federal stimulus or not, construction contractors still seem pretty hungry for work.

More than six dozen have picked up bidding packages for the new Saratoga County animal shelter. Nine separate contracts will be awarded, ranging from bulldozing the site to installing dog kennels and cat cages.

The bids will be opened on Tuesday, and that’s when we’ll have a better idea whether county supervisors’ self-imposed $5.2 million price ceiling is realistic.

“I was surprised,” Animal Shelter Director Dan Butler said of the amount of interest. “Hopefully they come in good.”

Opening bids will be a turning point for an idea first floated three years ago upon the realization that the current shelter simply didn’t measure up to modern standards and never could. The new shelter will be built just in front of the old one, on the County Farm property in Milton.

The first design — doing it right, cost be damned — came in with a $12 million to $14 million price tag, so that version was quickly euthanized.

After that, county officials repeatedly sought design changes to reduce the building size and use cheaper materials — and county supervisors reached an informal understanding that they can stomach a $5 million price tag.

If next week’s bids pass muster, work will start this fall and take a year. Supervisors may — or may not — schedule a special board meeting in the next couple of weeks to quickly award the construction contracts.

Categories: Uncategorized

Leave a Reply