As gas prices hover around $4, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) wants to do something about it and is introducing legislation to relieve city drivers.
At a press conference Friday at Kramer’s Shell service station in Whitestone, Avella said his bill would require the city to compute its sales and compensating use taxes on gas and diesel fuel at a flat, cents per gallon rate, instead of the percentage per gallon rate that is in effect now.
“This would give consumers a break at the pump, especially young families and seniors,” the senator said. “At $4 a gallon, the difference between the percentage and the flat rate would save someone buying 20 gallons of gas a week roughly $80 over a year.”
He noted that the state taxes consumers a flat rate of 8 cents per gallon for retail gas. The rate remains constant regardless of any fluctuation in price. But city residents are charged a percentage of the sale price per gallon of gas on top of the state’s sales tax.
In 2005, while a city councilman, Avella promoted similar action, which the state approved, but Mayor Bloomberg refused to implement. “That money is a windfall to the city at the expense of consumers,” he said.
He said his new legislation would force Bloomberg “to do the right thing ” and urges residents to support his bill, S6852, by writing or calling their elected officials.
Kenny Wurtz, who owns the Whitestone gas station on Willets Point Boulevard, said he favors the bill since he thinks it will help his business. “People are more likely to come in and fill up,” Wurtz said. “A couple of cents makes a difference.”
Wurtz indicated that rising gas prices have hurt his family-run business, which has been located in Whitestone since 1949. “Business is down somewhat,” he said. “With this legislation, there would be no hidden tax.”
Avella believes his bill has a good chance of passage. “It’s a simple thing and ironic that I brought it up in 2005 and am now in the state Senate to get it implemented,” he said. “Pennies add up.”