Eugene gas tax controversy

According to the Eugene Register-Guard, local gas station owners are in an uproar. While happy that their referendum to repeal the latest 3 cent/gallon city gas tax will be on the November ballot, they are up in arms over what they perceive to be political arrogance that is keeping the older 2 cent gas tax off the ballot.

From the Register-Guard:

Gas station owners, who claim the city's gas tax puts them at a disadvantage with station owners outside the city, wanted residents to decide the fate of the 3-cents-a-gallon tax increase, and to undo a council decision in May to make a previous 2-cents-a-gallon tax increase permanent.

That 2 cents, passed two years ago, was set to end next February. However, city officials want to keep the tax to help the city tackle a growing list of street repairs.

"Make no mistake, if we need to, the 2 cents will be referred for the taxpayers to vote on," [Ron Tyree] said.

The City Council is to hold a public hearing Sept. 10 on whether to make the 2-cent portion of the gas tax permanent.


  • Ted (unverified)

    This was a controversy in the 90s down in San Diego County. I think the Union or other major paper investigated and found that gas companies price discriminately already, so that stations in affluent La Jolla pay more than working class Lemon Grove, for example. It's why gas costs more in Lake Oswego than SE Portland. It's not necessarily perceived differences in fixed overhead. So this is a challenge for station owners already. The affluent buy on convenience and probably don't blink at an extra couple bucks to fill up, but commuters tend to bypass those stations. Now commute-to-work patterns are very different in Eugene than in So Cal. And a two cent tax is only about 30-40 cents a fill. Will Eugene customers make a trip to Springfield to just save a few dimes? Do Springfield stations take advantage and up their gas a penny to profit from the spread? Do Eugene stations with convenience stores experience lower shoplifting and vandalism losses because the adverse selection problem is shifted toward Springfield? You're talking about less than a penny a gallon tax changing consumer driving habits in a small city where congestion and sprawl aren't a big problem. I doubt there is any significant net impact on Eugene station's profits. They might even be benefiting in ways they don't necessarily realize.

  • nutmeg (unverified)

    Perhaps the greater concern is the massive amount of I- traffic that will decide to stop in Cottage Grove, or Springfield in order to avoid the 5 cents/gallon tax?

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    I always find it fascinating how many people get wiggy about a nickel more here or a nickel less there for gasoline -- but don't blink an eye at spending substantial dollars more for organic food, or quality cuts of beef, or lattes at Starbucks, or microbrews...

    If you're driving the typical 1000 miles per month, and you're getting a typical 20 miles per gallon, then you're consuming 50 gallons a month. A nickel a gallon more is just $2.50 more a month.

    What's the big deal? $2.50 a month.

    Is it just because we can't taste the gasoline, and so it feels like "money wasted"?

    (And I get it - poor people exist; but there's a lot more ranting about 5 cent taxes or price increases than comes from just poor folks.)

  • Steve (unverified)

    "local gas station owners are in an uproar"

    Uh, people, who pays the gas tax? How about the consumers getting dinged instead of painting evil gas-station owners as the villains.

    Gas-station owners are not making that much as witnessed by the need to stick a mini-mart next to each set of pumps. Plus every gas pump already is paying something like $15K in SDCs already. NO - I am not friend/spouse/realtive/lover of any gas station owners.

  • nutmeg31 (unverified)

    Kari, you have a great point. Most folks won't bat an eyelash at foo-foo coffee, bottled water (what great marketing!), organic foods or fresh baked items from the bakery. But, an extra couple of cents a gallon makes a difference. I really think that the gas station owners are concerned about getting by-passed for the dollar or so a tank savings

  • Joseph Vardner (unverified)

    I applaud the Eugene City Council for having the guts to pass the tax originally, even though now they are showing a complete lack of leadership by referring every major decision they've had to referendum.

    The greater issue this brings forth, and is becoming more of a conversation since Minneapolis, is how do we pay for our infrastructure? As an engineer whose peers work on our systems, we are not ready for growth, we are not ready for a natural disaster, and we have no funds to get ready. The mere backlog of repairs is staggering.

    If it is through the gas tax, then we should do so. If we wish to implement some other system, we should do so. But to leave things the same is negligent to my generation (millennial). I am looking for bold leadership, where is it?

    "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgement; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion." -Edmund Burke

  • (Show?)

    I wonder what the impact on sales would be if station owners hung signs or banners that read something like "Buy Gas Here - Eugene Fuel Taxes Pay For Eugene Road Maintenance"?

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    But Glen HD28, don't you know the Keebler elves fix our bridges and roads, not tax money. You see, the people in Minnesota simply forgot to clap loud enough?

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