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Avella proposes flat tax on gas for city motorists

State Sen. Tony Avella fills up his gas tank (l.) after announcing his proposed legislation to impose a flat tax on city gas prices. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

The rising price of gas is no secret for city drivers, according to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Avella held a news conference outside a Flushing service station Friday to announce legislation he introduced, which includes a city-imposed flat tax on gasoline and diesel fuels.

“As we all cry out in pain over the rapid increase of gas prices the past few months, the city is quietly sitting back and collecting an unfair and undeserved surge in revenue,” Avella said. “Not only are consumers being gouged by the base price of oil, but they are also being gouged by the city collecting a percentage rate.”

Immediately after the press event, Avella then proceeded to the pump to fill his own vehicle, shaking his head when he saw the total cost to fill up his tank.

According to Avella, the city currently operates under a percentage-per-gallon system, which differs from the state’s procedures and in turn raises the overall cost. While the state taxes drivers a flat rate of 8 cents per gallon for retail gas sales regardless of fluctuating prices, the city charges an additional percentage of the sale price per gallon.

“With the rapid increase in gas prices, the city is receiving an undeserved windfall tax revenue at the expense of its commuters,” Avella said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

According to Avella, the state had given the city permission to move from a percentage rate to a flat rate in 2006 when a resolution implemented the flat tax on the state level. Since then, Avella said, Mayor Michael Bloomberg never enacted the flat tax on the city level and has collected large revenues in extra sales taxes since.

He said his bill would force the city to move to a flat tax rate.

At $4 a gallon, Avella said, the difference between the percentage and the flat rate would save someone buying 20 gallons of gas a week — roughly $80 over the course of one year.

It is a move Avella said could go as far as benefiting local business as much as the consumer.

Ken Wurtz of Kramer’s Service Station at 157-30 Willets Point Blvd., said he supported Avella’s legislation.

“I think it’s a good thing,” Wurtz said. “It’s good for consumers and it’s better for businesses.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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