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New D.C. gas tax would aid Metro

D.C. council member Jim Graham introduced a bill Tuesday that would levy a 10-cent per gallon gas tax in the District to provide Metro with more funding. The transportation agency faces a $189 million operating budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Metro officials recently held a series of public hearings so the public could comment on a range of service cuts and fare hikes the agency is considering.

According to the bill, the tax would only become effective once other jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia that govern Metro implement similar legislation.

Here is the text of the bill:




To charge a 10-cent per gallon motor vehicle fuel surcharge in the District of Columbia, to dedicate all revenues generated by this additional tax to the District of Columbia operating subsidy to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), and to make this fuel surcharge take effect at such time that other jurisdictions that are part of the WMATA Compact Area begin to charge an equivalent 10 motor vehicle fuel surcharge and dedicate this additional tax revenue to their portion of the WMATA operating subsidy.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the "WMATA Regional Dedicated Transportation Surcharge Act of 2010".

Sec. 2. (a) The District of Columbia shall charge a 10 cent per gallon surcharge on all motor vehicle fuels sold in the District of Columbia.
(b) All tax revenue generated from the surcharge in paragraph (a) of this section shall be dedicated to District of Columbia's portion of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) operating subsidy.
Sec. 3. Applicable Date
Sec. 2 of this Act shall take effect on the date that other all jurisdictions within the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Zone, as defined in the WMATA Compact, begin charging a $0.10 per gallon surcharge on all motor vehicle fuels sold in those jurisdictions and dedicate such tax revenue to their respective portions of the WMATA operating subsidy.
Sec. 4. Fiscal impact statement.
The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 602(c)(3) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(3)).
Sec. 5. Effective date.
This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of Congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02 (c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.

By Michael Bolden  |  April 20, 2010; 8:27 PM ET
Categories:  Advisories , Transportation Politics  
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Who's dumb enough to buy gas in the District anyway? All you have to do is drive a few miles and get gas much cheaper in VA or MD.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | April 20, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame has it right...

Also, the bag tax was supposed to be used to clean up the river and now Fenty is planning on using the money for street sweepers...who knows where this money would go.

Posted by: DCJUSTICE | April 20, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Clueless politicians. No new taxes. None. No. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Governments need to make do with what they have in these tough times.

Posted by: thetan | April 20, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Stop taxing the hard working people of the District. Cut back on some of the entitlement programs in the District. Then hard working people like me wouldn't be fee'd and taxed on all things related to owning a vehicle. It's really unfair.

Posted by: brandip_77 | April 20, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

All you people talking about no new taxes- remember that when you need an ambulance at your house, or you want timely trash removal, or some detectives to solve the break-in at your house. Remember that when you are complaining about the class size at the school where your kids goes. Remember that when you want potholes filled before your car disappears in one. Lastly, remember that when you have to take Metro somewhere, and your wait for a train or a bus is way too long. No new taxes...

Posted by: kmm88 | April 21, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

This tax would be a good idea if the funding were dedicated to Metro and if the revenues from the tax are addition to the existing funding levels which the jurisdictions in the WMATA compact area supply to the transit agency. The price of regular unleaded is around $3 a gallon now. 10 cents a gallon is literally a drop in the bucket. Within a year or two the price is going to go up sharply. People will still drive when the price of gas is $4 a gallon (or higher). So they can afford to pay 10 cents more now. Also, maintaining an effective mass transit system keeps more cars off the road thereby reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. Everyone would benefit from this tax. Driving should be more expensive than riding Metro, to encourage more people to use mass transit. Unfortunately, the bill is a nonstarter, as the Northern Virginia jurisdictions are unlikely to adopt such a tax.

Posted by: srotha | April 21, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

That's a bill that'll never happen, for more than just what srotha mentioned. The Northern Virginia jurisdictions cannot levy a local gas tax unless the state General Assembly gives them permission to. Fat chance of that happening...

Posted by: ajfroggie | April 21, 2010 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Classic Grahamstanding...

Posted by: wpjunk | April 21, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

I think the point WashingtonDame makes is one reason why the DC bill is contingent on the other local jurisdictions passing the same tax (and, as Froggie notes, that's why it will never become effective). Otherwise the tax would almost never be collected, as the price differential between DC and the suburbs (which is already fairly big) would increase to the point where the only people who bought gas in DC would be people with more money than sense or people who had to splash in a few litres in an emergency. Last Thursday when I passed the Exxon at the corner of Virginia Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway they were charging $4.19 a gallon for 93 octane. On Sunday I paid $3.13 a gallon for 93 octane at a Sunoco near Springfield. Rather astonishing price differential (even recognizing the higher cost of the land and the "almost no competition" aspects of the DC station). I've never bought gas in DC in 21+ years of driving and I hope I never need to do so.

To put the amount in perspective, though, suppose you put 15 gallons in your tank three times a month every month. That's a very oversimplified estimate, of course, because it doesn't account for varied weekend driving, vacations, etc. But anyway, 10¢ a gallon more leads to $1.50 more per tank, $4.50 more per month, and $54.00 more per year. I don't know ANYONE who would notice the loss of $54.00 spread over the course of a year. Most people waste more than that on their morning coffee or on stupid cellphone unlimited-text-message plans.

Posted by: 1995hoo | April 21, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

1995hoo, are you using a gas price finder like the one that has? I just checked and the Lukoil on 123 at International Drive has regular for $2.87 a gallon. For some reason, the gas stations in Mclean, VA tend to be relatively inexpensive (except for the one by the GW Parkway entrance). On the weekends, I can drive there in about 20 minutes, gas up, and also pick up some nice produce at the larger, better supplied food stores in that area, too. Makes it worth my while.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | April 21, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame, 1995hoo said he was buying 93 octane gas, i.e. premium.

Posted by: srotha | April 21, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame, 1995hoo purchased premium gas (93 octane) which is why he paid more.

1995hoo, the Exxon at Virginia Avenue and Rock Creek Parkway is more expensive than most gas stations in D.C.

Posted by: srotha | April 21, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

and the Chevron across the street is 50 cents less a gallon for each grade of gas.

Posted by: wpjunk | April 21, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame, I'm familiar with one of the gas price sites (part of the GasBuddy family of sites, although "GasBuddy" sounds like something fart-related) but I do not generally use those sites for my day-to-day driving because I generally know where the cheapest stations are along the routes I usually use. To give an example, the Exxon and Shell at the corner of Van Dorn and Edsall tend to be about 15¢ a gallon higher than the Sunoco half a mile away at the corner of Whiting and Stevenson. I don't need a website to tell me this because it's always been the case for at least the past 10 years. As far as stations in McLean go, I haven't had reason to head that way recently, so unless I had some sort of errand that could not be done closer to home I wouldn't drive over there just to buy gas. More likely I would make a trip down to Woodbridge to go to Wegmans and I'd fill the tank at the Wawa on Optiz Boulevard, as gas there is usually 10¢ to 15¢ a gallon cheaper than it is in Fairfax County. But since I'd use a gallon in the 25-mile roundtrip, there has to be a good reason to go down there.

As others have noted, I paid $3.13 a gallon because the car calls for premium unleaded, 91 octane or higher. I ran it on regular gas ONCE when I was running out of gas in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, and the only station in town had only regular available. I splashed in $10 of regular to hold me the next day until I reached Sydney, as I didn't want to go into the mountains on the Cabot Trail running regular gas. I definitely noticed a bit of power retardation during the period when I was running regular.

My other car uses regular, but I fill it up far less often (once a month tops) and so I tend not to pay attention to the price of regular gas. For the most part I've found that the stations that are cheaper for super tend to be cheaper for regular as well.

Finally, "wpjunk," I'm aware that the Chevron is less expensive than the Exxon (I won't say "cheaper"), but 50¢ less than $4.19 is still a good 56¢ more than the Virginia station!

Posted by: 1995hoo | April 21, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

There is not a politician I detest more than Jim Graham. A clueless idiot.

Posted by: Trout1 | April 21, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Is this tax in addition to the DC Commuter Tax on residents of Virginia and Maryland who work in the District?

Posted by: jojo4 | April 21, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful idea- let's tax one group to subsidize another. This is apparently the new American Way!

Posted by: McGivneyD | April 21, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Looks like I will be buying my gas in MD from now on.

Posted by: ericroks | April 21, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Right on ericroks me too.

Posted by: dbasile | April 21, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

People always find a way to get by with less. If you force them to deal with it they'll figure it out. If they can’t, fire them and hire competent employees. Oh wait, it's the government!

Posted by: melador | April 21, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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