Prepare for higher prices at the pump in 2017

Margarita Cambest
York Dispatch
  • The nation’s highest gas tax will go up another 8 cents per gallon on Jan. 1.
  • The state’s wholesale gas tax funds road construction and infrastructure maintenance.
  • York County's average price per gallon is $2.45.

Dan Glatfelter stopped for gas at the Royal Farms on Route 30 in York City on Monday, but instead of filling up, the Adams County man put in just enough to get to a pump in Hanover. After squeezing just $5 of regular gasoline, he put the cap back on his tank and set the fuel dispenser back in its place.

Glatfelter and other Pennsylvania drivers might have to start pinching pennies even more as the steepest gas tax in the nation is set to go up even higher for 2017. Starting Jan. 1, drivers will pay about 78 cents per gallon in tax, up from just less than 70 cents this year.

“Any spike in tax prices is going to affect me and my family,” Glatfelter said, adding that he often stops for gas in Maryland, where it’s about 20 cents less per gallon.

Dan Glatfelter, of McSherrystown, put $5 worth of gas in his car at the Royal Farms in York so he could get home where gas is .05 cents a gallon cheaper,  Monday December 26, 2016. Gas prices in Pennsylvania are set to rise with yet another tax increase that will take effect January 1. PA will add another .08 cents a gallon tax which will go towards road and bridge repair and pay for State Police protection on highways. John A. Pavoncello photo

“I thought York might be cheaper (than closer to home), but it’s 5 cents more than in Hanover,” he said.

On average, Pennsylvanians now pay about $2.46 per gallon of regular gasoline, with a 1 cent break in York County. Fuel monitoring firm shows York, Adams and Franklin counties have average prices just below the state’s $2.46 cents a gallon average. The site allows consumers to compare gas prices by station and monitors fuel prices over time.

According to prices reported to the site by Monday, heading to Lancaster, Cumberland or Dauphin counties to purchase gas could save a driver 3 to 6 cents a gallon. Crossing the state line into Baltimore County could save up to 20 cents.

“Maryland is definitely cheaper,” Glatfelter said, adding he makes a point to stop at a Jiffy Mart in Westminster when he’s working in the area just to fill up.

Why so high? The start of the new year marks the third and final step in the gradual gas tax increases that were phased in as part of a 2013 state law to raise billions to improve bridges, highways and other transportation modes, according to The Associated Press.

While the gasoline tax increase hits wholesalers, gas stations will almost certainly pass the increase to motorists, Patrick DeHaan, a petroleum analyst with told The Times-Tribune of Scranton.

The 2013 law that was passed under Republican Gov. Tom Corbett also imposed a range of higher fees on motorists.

Pennsylvania has the nation’s fifth-largest road network, with more road miles than New York, New Jersey and all the New England states combined, according to James May, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation.

Gas prices to rise this summer, but not far

He said PennDOT has fixed thousands of structurally deficient bridges and boosted road construction spending by about $1 billion, paving the way for about 25,000 new construction jobs.

However, Alex Harlacher, of Conewago Township, doesn’t have high hopes any of those improvements will benefit his daily life.

“I probably won’t see any difference with it,” Harlacher said at the Rutter’s Farm Stores on Kenneth Road in West Manchester Township.  

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.