June 29, 2013

Pain at the pump in Maryland

By Jaklitsch Law Group of Jaklitsch Law Group on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

gasMaryland Motorists will start sending a little more money to Annapolis starting Monday.

Starting July 1, the state’s excise tax will increase 3.8 cents to 27.3 cents per gallon. That increase is on top of the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. Additionally, motorists who have to renew their vehicle registrations can also expect to pay more.

Christine Delise, a spokeswoman for AAA Maryland, said the initial bump in the tax might go unnoticed initially because it’s being implemented at a time when gas prices historically decline.

Over the last week, average retail gas prices Maryland have decreased by 4 cents.

“We’ve been seeing in Maryland a downward trend in prices,” Delise said. ” Motorists might not immediately notice the tax increase right away. Typically mid-summer prices tend to decline.”

The increase in July is part of a tax increase package contained in a transportation bill proposed by Gov. Martin O’Malley and passed earlier this year by the Maryland General Assembly.

Maryland’s gas tax rate will increase to 43.7 cents per gallon by July 2016. The tax could increase by nearly another full penny in 2017 if the federal government fails to implement an Internet sales tax.

The gas tax is also tied to the Consumer Price Index, which allows for automatic increases in the per gallon assessment without additional legislation. The rate would not decrease if the index decreases.

Delise said the increase to Maryland Motorists comes at the same time that Virginia motorists will see roughly a 6 cents per gallon tax decrease in the gasoline tax.

That’s because Virginia will eliminate their current 17.5 cents per gallon tax at the pump and implement a tax on the average wholesale price of gas. The tax rate that goes into effect on July 1 in Virginia will be 11.7 cents per gallon.

Virginia residents already pay less for gas than Maryland drivers. The current average price for regular unleaded gas in Virginia is $3.38 per gallon compared to $3.47 per gallon in Maryland.

Also increasing on Monday is the cost to register a vehicle.

Motorists who renew their registrations after July 1 will see a $3.50 increase in the fee for vehicle registration.

The fees will go to offset an increase in salaries offered to pilots for the Maryland State Police. The agency has 11 vacancies within its 50 pilot positions, according to the review of the bill earlier this year.

The base pilot salary increases to $70,000. The state expects to hire 20 additional pilots. Maintenance technicians would see their base salary increase to $60,000 as part of the proposal.

The transportation bill that goes into effect also included:

  • $60 million over three years for the Sen. William H. Amoss Fire, Rescue, Ambulance fund.
  • A $2 per hour salary increase for field instructors at the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute
  • More than $11 million over four years for a new communications system for the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services.
  • A requirement that the governor spend nearly $400 million to comply with the Watershed Implementation Plan over five years.