Gasoline sales tax cap proposed to stabilize county revenue

Jan 27, 2015

Erie County Legislator Ted Morton is proposing a cap on the county sales tax for gasoline. Morton floated the idea Tuesday as County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw released a report titled "The True Cost of a Gallon of Gasoline."

The comptroller's report finds those who fill their tanks in Erie County pay about 38 cents more per gallon than the national average because of county, state and federal taxes. Mychajliw also notes that since gas prices have fallen, county sales tax revenue is down.

Credit Cheryl Hagen/WBFO News

Morton's proposal would change the tax from 4.75% to a maximum 10 cents per gallon or $2 overall. The two men claim the proposal will provide the county with a more stable source of revenue and save residents money when gas prices rise again.

"What we're trying to do here is, the next upcycle in gasoline prices, whether it's a year, two years, or five years down the road, is to lessen the future payment for taxpayers the next time prices start to go up," said Morton.

Mychajliw projects sales tax revenue will be down about $13 million this year because of lower gas prices. He says he has repeatedly warned that that the county budget is too reliant on revenue from the sales tax.

"That way it would be a known number, a streamlined number of exactly what revenue we will collect within Erie County government, because every month it changes. It fluctuates based on revenue reported to us by New York State," Mychajliw said.

Morton says he believes this is the perfect time to propose a cap, when the county will already be learning to live with less do to the current decrease in sales tax revenue resulting from falling gas prices.