Thursday, November 23, 2017     Volume: 18, Issue: 38
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Santa Maria Sun / Biz Spotlight

The following article was posted on November 9th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 18, Issue 36

Spotlight on: California's Gas Tax

AAA Automobile Club of Southern California

By SPENCER COLE

California’s 12-cent gas tax hike kicked in on Nov. 1 and consumers almost instantly felt pain at the pumps.

“The tax hike’s effect at many, but not all, gas pumps was immediate on Wednesday,” said Auto Club spokesman Jeffrey Spring in a statement. “While we believed the switch to the cheaper winter blend of gasoline could have canceled out some of the tax increase, higher oil prices and lower inventory have instead pushed underlying fuel costs higher. The tax increase plus these additional issues make the usual fall price decline less likely going forward.”


TAKE A HIKE
Gas prices climbed statewide by 12 cents on Nov. 1. The price change came largely due to California’s gas tax passed by legislators in April.
PHOTO BY SPENCER COLE

The tax hike is projected to raise more than $5 billion annually to help repair California’s major transportation infrastructure: everything from fixing aging roads and bridges to expanding bike lanes. The revenue will also go toward improving mass transit and reducing traffic congestion. The state has a backlog of $130 billion in repair and replacement projects for its transportation system, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Until that time, all consumers can do is drive less or find ways to budget better as they pay more to fill up. The Central Coast’s average gas price for regular unleaded jumped to $3.14 on Nov. 1, nine cents higher than the previous week and three cents higher than one month ago. Prices per gallon are 27 cents higher than last year.

On Nov. 3, prices for the Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Lompoc area were $3.17 a gallon for regular, up 12 cents from just a week earlier.

“It looks like unfortunately most areas did see almost a full impact of the 12 cent increase in the last day or two,” Marie Montgomery, another Auto Club spokesperson, told the Sun.

But thankfully for some, there’s still gas to be found locally well below the average price level. Some of the cheapest prices are found in Lompoc, with regular unleaded running at just $2.71 at some locations, according to gasbuddy.com. Santa Maria also had several gas stations selling regular at prices as low as $2.81.

The highest gas price for regular unleaded in the Santa Maria, Santa Barbara, and Lompoc area peaked at $3.20 on Sept. 8, immediately following the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in South Texas.

“Even though our supply wasn’t directly affected, it was just one of those where there’s a national issue and then everyone gets affected,” Montgomery said, adding the current prices could jump in the coming weeks and top the year’s previous high.

“We have seen most of the increases we are gonna get, but the problem is wholesale prices [of crude oil] continue to go upward,” she added. “We may see some continued upward pressure on prices, but oil industry analysts do expect prices to settle down toward the end of [November]. Of course anything can happen: refinery maintenance, major shutdowns of refineries, then we could definitely see more increases, but barring that, [industry experts] expect prices to settle somewhat back down. Now they may not go down a lot, but hopefully it’s enough to help out the consumer.” 

Highlights:

• Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center, and Marian Regional Medical Center, which are Dignity Health Central Coast hospitals, announced on Nov. 1 a proactive lung cancer screening program to those with a high risk of developing lung cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer in the Unites States. Mission Hope Cancer Center held an informative session on Nov. 7 in Santa Maria. Staff were on hand to answer questions about the latest approaches to lung cancer treatments, minimally invasive surgeries and prevention strategies.

Staff Writer Spencer Cole wrote this week’s Biz Spotlight. Information should be sent to the Sun via fax, mail, or email at spotlight@santamariasun.com.




Weekly Poll
What do you like most about the holiday season?

Spending time with family and friends.
The food, and eating too much of it.
Gift giving and receiving.
The days off from work.

| Poll Results