SCHENECTADY – Starting June 1 when Schenectady resident Lois Etkin takes her car to Niskayuna Tire on Balltown Road she’ll be paying a little less after the Schenectady County Legislature voted to cap the gas tax.
The measure, which passed 14-0 would mean a savings of 8 cents per gallon of gas until February 28, 2023.
Legislators Thomas Constantine, D-Niskayuna, Glenville; Kathy Gatta, D-Niskayuna, Glenville and Richard Patierne, D-Schenectady, were absent.
When the state suspended its sales tax on fuel, motor fuel and highway diesel as part of the state’s 2023 budget, it also gave counties the opportunity to take the same stance with their local sales tax.
“Cutting the County’s gas tax is the right thing to do for our families, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet due to the increasing costs of food, fuel and other necessities,” said Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam, Duanesburg and Princetown and the chairperson of the Legislature in a press release. “COVID-19 created unprecedented challenges over the last 2 years. During that time Schenectady County government has continued to find ways to support our residents, from addressing the basic needs of the community by delivering groceries and connecting people in need to resources, to providing PPE, testing and vaccines. While our residents have been resilient, our families are now suffering from price increases and inflation. Reducing the gas tax is a continuation of these efforts to support our residents and provide some relief.”
The state’s cap on the gas tax would only last until the end of the year, according to a press release from the county.
By implementing the cap the county would only collect sales tax on the first $2 per gallon of gas.
“I appreciate that the government is getting involved to help people,” Etkin said.
She said anywhere you go now prices have increased–gas, food, everything.
“It’s painful,” she said.
Etkin said every week she’s spending around $55 on gas when she only used to spend between $25 to $30.
The average price of regular gas in Schenectady Monday was $4.16, among some of the lowest prices in the state, according to AAA. The state’s national average as of Monday was $4.23 and the national average was $4.12.
Legislator Gary Hughes, D-Schenectady, said the Legislature’s vote Monday night was just continuing the county’s efforts to help people through the pandemic.
With the state cap it would be about a 24 cent per gallon savings at the pump.
“There is really not a downside to this,” he said.
In some ways the federal government has brought this on people because it’s had it “boot on the throat of the oil industry,” said Legislator Brian McGarry, R-Rotterdam, Duanesburg, Princetown. However, he said the cap was necessary to ease people’s pain at the pump.
Reporter Shenandoah Briere can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at SB_DailyGazette.