Cumberland Times-News

Local News

June 30, 2013

Gasoline tax, tolls increase in Maryland

Change will add about 3.5 cents to price of a gallon

ANNAPOLIS — The cost of driving in Maryland is going up today.

The state’s first gas tax increase in two decades goes into effect Monday, along with the second round of toll increases in less than two years.

In another step designed to build infrastructure, the deadline for 10 of the state’s most populated jurisdictions to implement fees for property owners for stormwater remediation to fight pollution in the Chesapeake Bay also is set for Monday.

While there will be no change to Maryland’s 23.5-cents-per-gallon excise tax, which was last raised in 1992, the state will begin applying a sales tax to a gallon of gas. Starting Monday, a 1 percent sales tax will be added to gas purchases in the first of several increases scheduled over the next few years. In another change, Maryland will begin implementing an automatic increase to gas prices that will be linked to the Consumer Price Index to adjust for inflation.

The changes will add about 3.5 cents to the price of a gallon of gas, with about 3.1 cents coming from the 1 percent increase and nearly half a cent from the indexing for inflation.

The sales tax is set to rise again by another 1 percent on Jan. 1, 2015, and another 1 percent on July 1, 2015. If federal legislation allowing states to collect a sales tax on Internet sales does not pass, the sales tax is scheduled to rise another 1 percent in January 2016.

Gov. Martin O’Malley, who unsuccessfully pushed for a gas tax increase last year, tried again this legislative session and won approval with the help of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch.

Supporters of the increase noted that after years of neglect, the state was scheduled to run out of money for new transportation projects after 2017 without new revenue. They also pointed to traffic congestion in the suburbs of the nation’s capital and Baltimore and concerns that Maryland would fall behind Virginia, which also approved new transportation revenues this year, to maintain and build roads to compete for jobs.

“You’ve got to regularly invest in transportation to address those congestion challenges and, eventually what happens, people become mired in gridlock, and from a business perspective we need to be able to move people, goods and services to have a vibrant economy,” said Don Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said.

On the day O’Malley signed the measure into law last month, the administration announced more than $1 billion in highway and transit projects. The Democratic governor also underscored the new jobs that would be created by the additional construction.

Opponents, however, decried the increases. Delegate Nic Kipke, the House minority leader, said the additional taxes will hurt businesses in a state where taxes were already high in general.

“Before all of these unnecessary tax increases to into effect, Maryland was already the fifth highest cost-of-living state in the nation, and I’m concerned these new costs just increase the hardship of lower and middle income people,” Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, said.

The toll increases taking effect Monday represent the second phase of such hikes approved by the Maryland Transportation Authority in 2011.   

Drivers of two-axle vehicles will pay $2 more to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, as the toll jumps to $6 from $4. Tolls for the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore Harbor Tunnel and Francis Scott Key Bridge will rise to $4 from $3 for two-axle vehicles. The toll for the Harry W. Nice Bridge will increase to $6 from $4. The cost of going through the one-way John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway at Perryville on Interstate 95 and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge on U.S. 40 will jump to $8 from $6.

In addition to the gas tax and toll increases, the state’s 10 most populated jurisdictions are hitting a deadline Monday to set fees for stormwater remediation. However, differences in how the jurisdictions have been addressing the requirement have been considerable. For example, in Frederick County, local officials opposing the idea have set a penny annual charge. Other jurisdictions have set higher fees. Carroll County officials decided Thursday to use county money for the initiative instead of implementing a fee.

Republican opponents, who have derided the fee by calling it “the rain tax,” say they will push to repeal it next year. Kipke said Republican lawmakers have scheduled a Monday news conference to make the announcement and criticize the tax increases. Kipke said he is concerned the initiative will hurt struggling businesses, such as a mall in his county that he says will face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees.

“There are countless stories like that where I fear this new costly fee will be the stake in the heart of employers in the state,” he said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Must Read
News related video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military