SCHENECTADY — Eleven of the 12 gas pumps were running Friday afternoon at the Alltown Fresh on Erie Boulevard but waiting lines still formed.
Regular unleaded was $3.89 a gallon, which earlier in the week would have been the highest price in the region in a decade or more. But by Friday, most other gas stations were north of $4 a gallon. Just across the river in Glenville, it was $4.19.
The Alltown has had some of the lowest prices in the area since it opened in the summer of 2020, and still does. But there was sticker shock at prices jumping noticeably higher overnight.
The pump cut off on Paul Reisinger of Mayfield as he was filling his F-150. He’d hit the per-transaction price limit and had to swipe his credit card again to top off the fuel-thirsty pickup truck.
“It’s going to cost $100 total,” he said. “I want to fill it while I’m down here.”
That morning gasoline had jumped to $4.19 in Mayfield, he explained.
AAA reports that a gallon of regular unleaded gas was running an average of $4.08 Friday in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy metro area, up 47% from $2.78 a year ago.
Laura Heaney of Rotterdam said she and her husband will likely curtail their recreational motorsports, snowmobiling and boating, but they can’t not commute to work.
The cost of gasoline is broadcast in bright LED numbers at every gas station in town. But the bigger picture is just as worrisome, she said.
“I think the general concern is the overall inflation and the cost of shipping items. The supply chain is already broken,” Heaney said. “I think the overall price of gas is going to affect everything in a negative way. You don’t want to spend that much — people are just starting to recover.”
And diesel fuel costs even more: $4.59 a gallon Friday at Alltown and more elsewhere.
Asked if a photographer could watch her pump gas, Remmie Norman of Schenectady said “You can watch me pump gas and cry!”
The bill for just over 10 gallons: $39.20.
“My third time this week,” she said.
She’s been driving to Westchester County repeatedly after a death in the family and was tanking up Friday for another of the nearly 300-mile round trips.
“If you think the gas prices are crazy here,” she said, take a trip downstate.
Topping off his tank cost Derek Howell of Glenville just $10 Friday because he didn’t need much. He’s buying gas every day now on the theory that however high the cost is today, it’ll be higher tomorrow. His SUV gets only 19 miles per gallon at best, and the round trip to work is about 50 miles.
“These are crazy days,” he said. “How much money does everyone have to keep throwing at it?”
One of the stickers showing President Biden pointing his finger with the words “I DID THAT!” was affixed to the gas pump and aiming right at the price Howell would pay for his gas this day.
Politics aside, he got a chuckle out of it.
New York state levies an excise tax (8 cents), petroleum business tax (17.3 cents), flat sales tax (8 cents) and petroleum testing fee (0.05 cents) on each gallon of gas sold.
The local sales tax is 4% in most counties (a total of 16 cents per gallon if gas costs $4 a gallon).
And the federal excise tax is a flat 18.4 cents per gallon.
All of this adds up to 67.75 cents a gallon, one of the combined highest tax rates in the nation.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said the rapidly soaring costs prompted him to introduce legislation that would suspend the state’s gas taxes for a year.
“New Yorkers are already feeling the strain of increased costs for essential goods, especially at the gas pump where prices increased significantly last year and are expected to continue rising,” he said. “After the challenges of the past two years, our families deserve all the relief we can provide.”
Santabarbara is not calling for suspension of the local sales tax on gasoline, which is the only tax that increases with cost.
One of the largest gas station operators in the region, Malta-based Stewart’s Shops, is making no prediction on when and where fuel prices will halt their rise.
Spokeswoman Erica Komoroske said via email:
“At this point our crystal ball is broken and we are all feeling the pain at the pump in this volatile gas market. Prices were on the rise even before the Ukraine conflict, and now it’s just gotten worse. We’ve seen 20% increases in oil and diesel costs and 15% increases on gasoline costs in just the last week. The raw cost of crude, the complicated refining process, and disruptions in transportation are all to blame. Europe’s dependence on Russian diesel has created even more complications. Now that most countries are not buying from Russia, there’s a global squeeze on the supply of oil, gasoline, diesel and natural gas.”
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