ATLANTA – Georgia motorists braced for higher gasoline prices after a higher state tax took effect, but so far the numbers on the pump don’t show it.
A new transportation-funding law took effect July 1 which included a shift in the way the tax on gasoline is figured. Instead of part sales tax and part per-gallon tax, the new law switches to entirely a per-gallon basis.
In converting the sales tax, the state used a four-year average of the gas price to get the equivalent per-gallon levy. Since the average price is lower now than it was over most of those four years, the result is a 6-cent increase in the state’s share of gasoline purchases.
Social media last week was full of warnings about an imminent price increase and recommendations to fill up before midnight June 30. But those dire predictions haven’t come to pass so far, according to the AAA Auto Club South.
The Georgia average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $2.65 Tuesday, according to Garrett Townsend, director of public affairs for AAA. A week earlier, just before the tax kicked in, the average was $2.66, a penny higher. And a month before the adjusted tax, the average was $2.67.
“We didn’t necessarily feel that overnight we would see a 6- or 7-cent increase,” Townsend said.
Plentiful supplies have led to a month-long price decline.
“It helped to absorb the 6- or 7-cent increase,” he said.
Average prices nationally and in neighboring states have followed the same pattern, but they’re not significantly lower than Georgia’s even after the tax hike.
The U.S. average fell from $2.75 in June to $2.70, as did the Florida price from $2.70 to $2.67. South Carolina has the lowest price in the South, and it fell from $2.46 to $2.42.
“We anticipate that prices will continue to decline over the remainder of the year,” Townsend said.
It’s not just private vehicle owners worried about shelling out more. Some school districts expect the new tax to squeeze their budgets, too. The Cobb County system expects an added half-million dollars in fuel costs, $400,000 more for Fulton County and $350,000 for Gwinnett, according to WXIA-TV.
Even in Clarke County, which has the smallest land area in the state, officials expect the impact on the 296,000 gallons of fuel used to total $22,000.
“We could see a much larger impact to our budget if fuel prices rise significantly as we’ve experienced in the past,” said Anisa Sullivan, spokeswoman for the Clarke County School District.
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