Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 25, 2013


Niagara Gazette — If you ask someone about the price of a head of lettuce, a gallon of milk or a block of cheese, you'll likely be met with a blank stare. If you ask someone about the price of gas, however, you're sure to get an opinion on costs that seem to only be going up.

A gallon of gas now costs between $3.84 and $4.08 in Western New York, with prices changing daily. Conversely, the national average for a gallon of gas is $3.67. 

So why are prices higher here?

Local experts say New York's tax structure has a lot to do with it. 

"When you look at New York state as a whole, taxes are the big reason," explains Steve Pacer, a public affairs specialist for AAA of Western and Central New York. "Only an handful of states have sales tax on top of (federal) gasoline tax."

Indeed, New York's combined state, federal, and local taxes add up to 69.7 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation. That's why travelers often see lower prices in the neighboring states of Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Combined with tensions in the oil-rich Middle East, severe weather and problems at U.S. refineries, it can be a big headache for the traveling public--and they're not the only ones.

"We don't like to see high gas prices either," said Dale Wittlief, Vice President of Fuel and Purchasing for Delta Sonic. Wittlief says that credit card companies charge interchange fees and can even make more money per gallon than the gas station itself. For that reason, some gas stations charge less if you pay with cash or a debit card. "It does help us when customers do use cash, it allows us to be competitive," he says.

Though the price of fuel is high now, Pacer is confident that it will start falling soon. 

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