Gas tax not hitting pumps too hard yet
William J. Herrlee with Kenn Advantage Group Inc. of Neville Island, a supplier of gas and diesel for area BP stations, disconnects a gas line after filling tanks at the BP station at Murtland and North avenues in Washington Thursday.
Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
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After the ball dropped, prices at the pump rose in Pennsylvania, but not as significantly as many speculated they would.
A bill passed by state lawmakers and signed by Gov. Tom Corbett went into effect Jan. 1, raising the tax on gasoline for wholesalers and distributors over three years to help fund transportation projects, with the first hike of 9.5 cents per gallon this year. The tax applies directly to transportation fuels, and many distributors and gas station owners plan to pass the cost on to consumers. However, the price of a gallon of gasoline remains largely unchanged for now.
On Thursday, the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Washington County rose to $3.49, a 14-cent increase over the past month, but only six-tenths of a cent higher than prices at this time last year. The average price of a gallon of gasoline in the state is $3.53, up only a 1.5 cents from last year. AAA actually predicts that prices per gallon of gasoline to decline slightly in the country throughout the year with the increased production and refinement of North American crude oil.
“This will also help prices at the pump in Pennsylvania,” said Theresa Podguski, director of public affairs for the AAA East Central Pennsylvania.
Podguski said on Dec. 27, the price of a barrel of crude oil crept above $100 and combined with cold weather and a spike in holiday travel to increase the price of gas for drivers. AAA does not know at this point how much of the tax increase will be passed on to consumers. Podguski said gas stations could make up for the tax increase in areas other than raising gas prices, like raising food and drink prices at convenience stores instead of at the pump.
The tax increase will bring in an estimated $2 billion per year over this year, next year and 2017.
Valerie Petersen, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said the money will help fund repairs of many structurally deficient bridges throughout the state. An increased budget will also allow PennDOT to repave asphalt roads instead of simply tarring and chipping, a process improving the safety and durability of the road. Many Pennsylvania bridges need attention and PennDOT needed monetary help to complete several long-term projects.
“Instead of just tarring and chipping, we can now do full-grade milling,” Petersen said.
AAA expects the price of gas to decrease slightly as the month continues.