Gas station operators and other business owners voiced their opinions to the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday during more than three hours of testimony on Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed 6 percent sales tax on gasoline.
The new tax would be phased in and would help pay for road and transit work throughout the state.
Among those testifying was a gas station owner who had just charged $35,000 on a credit card to a gas company to fill his underground tanks, said Del. Cathy Vitale (R-Severna Park).
"He has 30 days to pay that," Vitale said, adding that there are additional taxes and credit card fees to also take into account.
With the price of fuel now as high as $4 a gallon, one consumer who commutes to Frederick said in an email to Vitale that she can't fill up her vehicle's gas tank at one time because the pumps are set up to stop at $70 to $90. The motorist said she now has to pump twice during one stop or return sooner to a station for more, Vitale said.
The added gas tax, earmarked for improving infrastructure, doesn't make sense to Vitale who said the trickle-down effect could impact services to the most vulnerable of the population—seniors and those in need of help in the community.
Vitale said the increase could endanger programs with local transportation needs, such as the county Department of Aging buses, volunteer programs like Partners In Care, Meals-on-Wheels and the Providence Center who transports clients to work.
"This increase could cut or possibly eliminate these services," she said.
Pointing to the realities of mass transit use in Maryland, Vitale said only 8.6 percent of the population in Maryland uses it.
"Today's culture doesn't support mass transit," Vitale said. "Busy families can't afford the luxury of time standing at a bus stop."
Nor do they trust its reliability, she added.
For consumers, the cost of driving continues to rise in Maryland with the prices at the pump climbing more than 40 cents per gallon since January, reported Washington Post Local on Wednesday.
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