Jul 29, 2014

Gas Station Owner Petitions Against Gas Tax Hike

Keith Madsen, owner of a Towson Hess station, is asking drivers to sign his petition.

Gas Station Owner Petitions Against Gas Tax Hike

A Towson gas station owner is rallying against a proposed increase in the gasoline tax.

Since Sunday, more than 600 drivers have signed a petition at the Hess gas station on East Joppa Road owned by Keith Madsen.

"It's chugging right along, we're picking up lots of signatures, lots of support from the people," Madsen says. "The motorists are really upset with this proposal."

Madsen, an Anne Arundel County resident who also has a petition going at the other Hess station he owns in Elkridge, says Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposal to apply Maryland's sales tax to gas would hurt his customers and his business.

The sign outside his Towson station, identical to the one in Elkridge, tells drivers to drop by and sign his petition.

The governor said the tax outlined in the  Maryland Transportation Financing and Infrastructure Investment Act of 2012 was essential to keeping the state and its transit systems running.

"This legislation will allow us to support 7,500 new jobs building needed roads, bridges and public transit throughout our state,” said O’Malley in a  press release on Feb. 14.

The increase would work by applying the 6 percent sales tax to the wholesale price of gas (that is, it would be reflected in the price at the pump) in three 2-percent steps over the next three years. Under current gas prices, the tax would add about 21 cents per gallon. The taxes would generate an additional $613 million in revenue, according to the press release.

Besides raising prices, it also creates what Madsen considers a hidden tax.

"I'm a tax collector and I end up having to pay credit card fees on these additional taxes and that's at my expense," he said. "So that drives up my cost of doing business and then I'm going to try to pass those credit card fees to the consumer if I can."

O'Malley's measure would send some of the money raised from the tax to local jurisdictions, restoring 2008 infrastructure funding levels. The bill would also make it harder for the state to use transportation trust fund money to cover general fund shortfalls, the Associated Press reports.

But in addition to locking down the trust fund, Madsen says he believes money raised by the gasoline tax should only be used for roads, bridges and other road-related services. Currently, the gasoline tax proceeds are also distributed to mass transit, the Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Aviation Administration.

"Why should the motorists be supporting the airport?" he asked. "I personally think it's wrong to say this is a motor fuel tax, use it for something else, then turn around and say we need more."

Madsen said he plans to go to Annapolis to testify against the legislation.

"What this is doing is it's hitting the consumer," he said. "Everybody needs to drive, everybody needs to work, everybody needs to take their kids to school. This is not something that's avoidable."

Elkridge Patch editor Elizabeth Janney contributed to this report.

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