Twin Counties feel squeeze at the pump | Columbia County

HUDSON — A month into a statewide gas tax holiday that was designed to provide relief, Columbia and Greene residents are still feeling the squeeze at the gas pump.

On June 1, the statewide suspension of the motor fuel excise tax, state sales tax, and Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District took effect through the end of the year.

The gas tax holiday was expected to reduce gas prices by at least 16 cents per gallon statewide. According to statistics from the AAA, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in New York was $ 4.929 at this time last month, while the price has slightly increased to $ 4.957 as of June 27.

At this time last year, the average cost of the gallon of gas in New York was $ 3.151.

Local residents have not noticed a reduction in prices despite the gas tax holiday.

“Way too high,” Brynn Miller, 32 of Chatham said while pumping gas in Hudson. “I don’t ever remember it getting this bad. Crazy.”

Kathleen Christianson, 67, of Hudson said that the persistently high gas prices have led her to cut back on routine travel.

“It makes it hard, I really need to think about where I’m going,” she said. “I can’t worry about driving around trying to find better parking or something because of the gas; it all adds up. My daughter Tammy asks if I need anything when she’s at the store so it helps, but people like me are on a fixed income. We can’t keep doing this. ”

Counties throughout New York also have the option to implement their own gas tax holidays. Greene and Columbia counties both have 4% sales taxes in place that apply to gas sales.

Counties have the option of collecting sales tax only on the first $ 2, $ 3 or $ 4 charged per gallon of gas and diesel, though neither Greene nor Columbia has exercised that option.

Columbia County Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell, R-Stockport, said Columbia is still measuring the option of enacting a gas tax holiday for the final quarter of 2022.

“We’ve had some informal discussions at this point, but it is something that we’re monitoring and possibly considering for the last quarter or the beginning of the new year,” Murell said Monday. But we’re also measuring and looking at what’s going on in other areas where there has been a gas tax holiday. In some cases, people aren’t seeing that difference at the pump. I ‘m not sure why, but I’d like to know whether that holiday is being passed on to the consumer. But I’m not really sure how we’d monitor that. ”

Murell noted that the county was leery that a county sales tax holiday could just be passed onto the consumer, but said the county would continue to discuss the matter.

“It’s not a dead issue at this point,” Murell said. “We’re still looking at it.”

Ulster and Dutchess counties are among the dozen counties collecting tax on the first $ 2 charged per gallon of gas and diesel.

Greene County has also not opted into a gas tax holiday, with the legislature arguing that the potential gas savings for residents would not justify the loss of income that the county would see from a tax holiday.

The county has prioritized applying the sales tax revenue from gas sales to keep property taxes low for county residents.

“There will be no property tax increase in 2023,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said on Monday. “We’ve committed to that. We still have a lot of things that we have to endure from a cost increase standpoint, but the whole concept of the debate was to hold the property tax another year. It would be the fourth year in a row that we did not increase the levy. ”

Groden noted that after the statewide gas tax holiday took effect that gas prices soon bounced back to where they were previously.

“That was our fear,” he said. “Is the retail market really shaving the tax down? There’s no way to audit it. From a commodity standpoint, fuel oil probably changes by the hour. Because of asphalt prices, our roadwork (costs) ) are up 10% from last week. That’s obviously driven by oil because asphalt is an oil product. ”

Carpooling is another answer, said Everly Cruz, 29, of Coxsackie.

“My car is small, it’s not a gas guzzler,” Cruz said. “My sister works at the restaurant with me so sometimes I catch a ride with her on the days we work together. Like we always did that sometimes, but now we do it a lot more. ”

While pumping gas in Hudson, Gavin O’Dell, 50, said he thought the war in Ukraine was the biggest factor for the rise in gas prices this year.

“Last summer it was like $ 50 to get my truck full, now it’s like $ 90,” he said.

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