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When will we see a little relief at the pump? Niagara and Chautauqua County officials one step closer to finalizing gas tax break for residents

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Posted at 7:01 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 13:57:34-04

NIAGARA COUNTY & CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — Government officials from the county level up to the White House are working on ways to cut back the cost at the pump.

While we are waiting for this aid to kick in, there is some good news. The price per gallon here in Western New York has dropped for a fifth straight week.

The week is starting off with drivers paying $0.05 less than last week.

Prices now sit around $4.23/gallon, in Western New York, but here is a look at how it dropped over the last month.

Two weeks ago, the average gallon of gas was $0.10 more expensive. One month ago, the it was nearly $0.15 higher.

Motorists can look forward to some relief, when New York State suspends its gas tax, beginning June 1, through the end of the year. With gas now at $4.23/gallon, $0.34 cents is state tax. With that tax on pause, drivers will save around $4 on a full tank.

However, could local leaders be doing more to further slash these prices?

Down the thruway from the 7 News Station in Monroe County, officials said they will slash the gas tax beginning in June.

The county plans to tax each gallon of gas as if it costs just $2, saving drivers an additional $0.08.

Leaders said because of the inflated price of gas, Monroe has brought in more revenue from gas sales tax than expected, which opens the door for the County to cut as much of the sales tax as possible.

The Monroe County gas tax cut mirrors the state's tax pause timeline, running through the end of the year.

7 News' Pheben Kassahun looked into whether this would be a possibility for Western New York drivers, by reaching out to every county leader in the region, to find out what is being done to help make ends meet.

Gas prices. When will we see a little relief? This is the question all drivers are continually asking.

Leaders in Niagara County said they are discussing plans to potentially be capping the gas tax and not charging the 4% tax on anything higher than $3/gallon. This means the County will only tax the first $3, even if the price goes to $5 or $6.

"What the state has done when they pass their cap recently, was they gave us the ability to tax our gas at a capped rate of either two three or four dollars. Meaning, after whichever amount we choose, that we would stop charging the tax after the amount," Wydysh said.

Niagara County legislature chairperson, Becky Wydysh, said the county's gas tax is 4%.

"What most drivers would be looking at between what the state has done and what we're considering doing here in Niagara County, they'd be looking at a 20-25/cent saving, per gallon of gas. So, when they're filling up, that can make quite a difference," Wydysh stated via phone interview.

Meanwhile, in Chautauqua County, county executive Paul Wendel said a committee is meeting this week about its gas tax break.

Chautauqua County executive, Paul Wendel said, "There has been a group that came out and said they wanted to do a zero tax, but as our attorney said, that can't be done. It has to be capped at certain increments."

The tricky part for both counties is finding a balance, making sure cost cutting measures will not impact residents in other ways down the line.

Wendel said over a Zoom interview, "We knew the months ago, with the increase in fuel costs, that it would impact our road maintenance and bridge maintenance this summer. If we even reduce or have less revenue sales, tax revenue, that will be another impact to our budget."

"We need to make sure that we're not simply shifting that burden to another area like property tax. We don't want to save motorists a few cents in their gas bill, just to have that show up somewhere else," Wydysh added.

Genesee, Erie and Cattaraugus Counties have each stated via email that it has not made a decision on the gas tax break. As for Wyoming, Allegany and Orleans Counties, county officials have yet to reply about their plans.