BOZEMAN - Fuel prices continue to rise, putting a strain on the pockets of many Montanans.
Add that with the high cost of living in the Gallatin Valley, and First Interstate Bank was prompted to help some of its employees just as gas prices hit record highs this week.
“I had a team member come to me and say 'Scott we are having a hard time between groceries and gas,'” says Scott Levandowski, Bozeman Market President, First Interstate Bank.
First Interstate Bank is giving its employees that earn less than $60,000 annually a $65 stipend to their paycheck.
“To be completely honest, for my colleagues and I, this stipend was totally unexpected but totally appreciated,” says Clara Herman, Financial Service Representative, at First Interstate Bank.
The hope is to provide some of their employees with some relief in some areas of their finances.
“Let's take that pressure off. We know people are under enough pressure with everything going on in the world,” says Levandowski.
For Clara and her colleagues who commute to work and are paying more for gas currently, it takes a weight off.
“With the increase in gas prices I just know that it's been really appreciated and to have the stipend because a lot of people gave to commute to work or they have extra responsibilities in the morning,” says Herman
According to AAA.com, in Montana, the average price for a gallon of regular was $4.23 as of May 11th, and it was $4.26 in Gallatin County. Gas prices across Montana have steadily climbed in the last month, on April 11th the average price was $4.11, and last week on May 4th it was $4.18.
“We all show up and focus on the clients' needs. I think it's been amazing to have an employer who wants to help and is willing to help,” says Herman.
With worker shortages also at the forefront, the goal is to help with employee retention.
“When I talk to my peers around the state, we are all struggling with staffing levels but it's really evident here in Bozeman,” says Levandowski.
For Clara, as a recent college graduate, this has helped with moving back to Bozeman and saving money, but she says not everyone she knows has the same luxury as her.
“Coming back to Bozeman, I know a lot of my friends left Bozeman to go to school and they all had the intention of coming back, but with increasing house prices, which are totally insane, it just doesn't seem realistic,” says Herman.
The stipend will be given to employees through June, if they need to extend the assistance, bank officials will reevaluate the need.
First Interstate Bank is giving its employees stipends for fuel as prices continue to rise. MTNs Edgar Cedillo spoke with one of them and broke down prices as they hit a new high.