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Courier services, taxis affected by rising fuel costs
Gas tax could hurt bottom line
Independent taxi drive Leroy Ervin, owner of Taxi Express, says any increase in the gasoline tax will hurt as it comes straight from his profit. A new gas tax is part of the transportation bill going into effect Wednesday.

Business owners like Leroy Ervin and Beba Knezevic watch gas prices pretty closely, and both are bracing themselves for the rising fuel costs projected to take effect Wednesday.

As part of a new gas tax structure approved this year by the General Assembly, the measure is projected to raise an additional $830 million to $850 million for improvement of roads and bridges.

But, it’s going to hurt the wallets of many. Namely, those whose businesses are so inextricably linked with what it costs to buy a gallon of gas.

“In my opinion, yes, it’s going to affect my profit margin,” said Ervin, owner of Gainesville’s Taxi Express. “But, the gas prices go up and go down. That’s how it is.”

Knezevic, who owns The Shipping Depot in Gainesville, said what will hurt the most are the surcharges from delivery services who bring shipments to her business.

“We run a business here that depends on gas prices,” Knezevic said. “Delivery services who bring us shipments will use this as an excuse to raise prices on their surcharges, because they base their rates on surcharges.”

The legislative changes primarily eliminate the state fuel sales tax and enact a 26-cent excise tax.

Consumers now pay a 3 percent state motor fuel sales tax, 1 percent state sales tax, a 7.5 cents per gallon state excise tax and 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal excise tax.

Also, paid are local taxes: 3 percent in Hall, with 1 percent covering local option sales taxes, 1 percent for the county’s special purpose local option sales tax and 1 percent for education SPLOST.

After Wednesday, gas buyers will pay a 26-cents-per-gallon state excise and an 18.4-cents-per-gallon federal excise, plus the local tax. The new state law, however, caps the retails sales gas price at $3 per gallon in terms of how local gas taxes are assessed.

The average retail sales price is set by the state every six months, with the last rate set in May of $2.35.

Thus, the average price of gas per gallon, with taxes built in, is now $2.77. Starting Wednesday, it rises to $2.86.

But as most drivers know, gas prices can fluctuate wildly, based on many factors.

The $2.86 amount is “the snapshot of one day’s gas prices,” said state Sen. Steve Gooch, R-Dahlonega, who helped lead a House-Senate committee that formed in 2014 to address state transportation funding.

He quickly added that lawmakers, in crafting a bill, sought to determine the new tax structure’s impact on consumers based on four years of retail gas prices and determined the average increase would be about 5 cents per gallon.

That’s 5 cents too much, according to Knezevic.

“Every increase means more surcharges for me,” said Knezevic, who said she has been daily reading the newspaper to stay abreast of information about the tax. “People need to be reading the newspaper, so they know what’s going on with this issue. This affects everyone.”

Reporter Jeff Gill contributed to this report.

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