A blip at the pump

Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007 at 10:57 p.m.

While we're on the subject of energy prices: If Alachua County commissioners are wringing their hands over the prospect of raising the local gas tax by a nickel a gallon to pay for transportation improvements, it's worth considering that the price of gas has dropped by 10 cents a gallon locally in just the last 25 days.

Last summer's $3 a gallon sticker shock is a distant memory. And although gasoline in Gainesville tends to run a bit higher than the state average (for reasons that have nothing to do with gas taxes) fuel prices have been on a downward trend even here.

Gasoline prices fluctuate according to world and national market demands, catastrophes like hurricanes and unforeseen events like an unnaturally warm winter. The addition of five cents per gallon here in Alachua County will barely cause a ripple in pump prices. It would, however, produce millions of additional dollars a year to maintain and improve roads.

A property tax revolt is looming and commissioners are under pressure to lower millage rates. A nickel gas tax is a pure user fee that can directly support the very infrastructure whose wear and tear is caused by gasoline consumers. With pump prices still headed south, this might be an opportune time for the commission to act.

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