Thursday, June 15, 2000

Ohio attracts gas shoppers

Ohio attracts gas shoppers
The Ann Arbor News
By Pamela Appea

Sylvannia, Ohio— Michigan motorists joined their Buckeye counterparts Wednesday, lining up by the half-dozen to fill tanks at a Clark station on West Alexis Road.

Ted Martin, a Clark manager, said he sees a lot of cars with dark-blue plates whose drivers are buying gas just across the state line for about 30 cents per gallon less than in Michigan.

Although he doesn’t track how many Michigan cars fill up, he knows his station was “slammed” by customers Wednesday.

Clark charges $1.73 per gallon for regular, compared to more than $2 per gallon in the Ann Arbor area.

“It doesn’t take a brain surgeon,” said a Temperance, Mich., man who wanted to be known only as Joe, as he filled up nine 2.5 gallon containers and his truck’s tank. “The state of Michigan doesn’t care. They’d like to see it stay at $2 a gallon,” he said.

The difference between the states can’t entirely be explained by taxes, although Michigan’s are about eight cents more. It levies 19 cents a gallon as well as a 6-percent sales tax. In a $2 gallon og gas, that amounts to 48 cents in state and federal taxes.

Ohio levies a 22-cent-per gallon state gas tax on top of the federal tax, for a total of 40 cents.

David Littmann, chief economist for Comerica Bank in Detroit, called Michigan’s gas sales tax unethical.

“It’s taxes on top of taxes, he said, adding that he doesn’t expect it to be repealed since it raised $250 million last year.

A pipeline break in Jackson that disrupted one-third of Michigan’s supply could explain the rest of the difference. But at the Sylvannia Clark, Michigan motorists had their own theories.

“It must be a monopoly,” said Paul Never of Temperance. “I can’t believe prices can jump so much,” said Never, a Ford Motor Co., employee, as he filled up his Ford 4-by 4 pickup.

Farther south in Toledo, Shell and BP stations weren’t as crowded. Nonetheless managers reported an increase in Michigan motorists this week.

“They’re just bitter, they’re just angry,” said Becky Merritt, manager of the Shell at Monroe and Secor.

Average gas prices
Current $2.010
Month ago: $1.520
Year Ago: $1.139

Current: $1.680
Month ago: $1.458
Year Ago: $1.086

Originally published Thursday, June 15, 2000