It's here: Gas is $5-plus


By Patsy Nicosia

Gas prices in Schoharie County hit an all-time high of $5.05 Tuesday, leading some to question supervisors decision not to grant a 16 cent-per-gallon gas tax holiday.
But again, they said: Not that simple.
According to AAA, gas prices in Upstate NY hit the $5 mark Thursday--even with the tax break that for participating counties, kicked in June 1.
Statewide, that was a 13-cent rise from last Monday, June 6; the price for a gallon of gas a year ago was $3.09, the AAA said and a month ago it was $4.50.
While prices did drop initially, the rising cost of oil is pushing up prices at the pump, the AAA said.
Locally, prices hovered at the $4.99 mark until Stewart’s Shops in Cobleskill and Schoharie went straight to $5.05.
Supervisors have come under fire for not opting into the gas tax break—though they’re continuing to study their options and could still change decide to opt in beginning in September.
But that loss—16 cents a gallon—would have to be made up somewhere else, Middleburgh Supervisor Wes Laraway said Thursday when the topic came up in an informal get-together with Village of Middleburgh officials.
“It wasn’t budgeted,” Mr. Laraway said.
“To take away 16 cents and give a holiday on the gas tax when the budget is already done is borderline fiscally irresponsible when taxpayers have to make it up in taxes.”
Bob Tinker, a Village of Middleburgh trustee, said the gas prices “are going to have an impact of everything, including salaries, fuel and any parts you buy. Prices are just going to go up.”
They already are, said Town Highway Superintendent Steve Kowalski.
“The cost of stuff [for road work] is astronomical. We’re getting a third of what we were for the same money a year ago.
That means a lot of the roadwork is getting put on hold, he said.
“Maybe by next spring it will be more realistic.”
When they agreed not to opt into the gas tax breaks—for now—supervisors said in addition to budget concerns, they were afraid it would just lead suppliers to increase their prices.
Treasurer Mary Ann Wollaber-Bryan said according to information gathered by the County Assessors Association, that’s exactly what happened in Albany County in 2006 when it pulled its gas tax.
At that time, County Attorney Mike West said, supervisors took off the local tax and put it into a reserve “to get ahead of distributors.”
For participating counties, the gas tax holiday runs through December 31.