Higher gas prices, fewer dollars for city | NevadaAppeal.com

Higher gas prices, fewer dollars for city

Jill Lufrano

Higher prices at the pump meant fewer dollars for city transportation projects that depended on 9 cents tax from each gallon sold last year, according to a financial report released Friday.

In all, the city received $300,000 less than expected as motorists conserved gas and bought fewer gallons in Carson City.

City officials used a carryover fund to pay for budgeted projects last year as a result, said Finance Director Tom Minton. The city expected to get $3.1 million from its share of the gas tax but only received $2.8 million.

“We were roughly 10 percent under what we expected due largely to high gas prices,” Minton said.

Drivers’ behaviors tend to change when gas prices increase, said Reno AAA spokeswoman Lisa Foster.

“One thing they do is shop around more,” Foster said. “They will be more apt to pull all their trips together and do a little better planning as far as local driving.”

However, the automobile association found record numbers of people traveled during the holidays last year, regardless of higher prices, Foster said.

Prices peaked in Reno around Sept. 1 at $2.16 per gallon on average. Though no official records were taken at that time in Carson, Foster said it is likely that is when the city’s prices peaked also. Statewide, prices peaked at $2.03 per gallon March 21.

Not only do drivers buy fewer gallons of gas, but they also shop around for cars that use less gas during peak price times, Foster said.

Prices have dropped in the past few weeks, continuing a downward trend that has prompted an increase in people buying gas. The average price Friday was still more expensive than last year at $1.69 statewide and $1.66 in Reno. Last year at this time, the statewide average was $1.47 and Reno’s average was $1.50.

The average price of gas nationwide Friday was $1.47.

Prices usually drop after Thanksgiving but increase again around the Christmas holiday, Foster said.

“So far this (fiscal) year, gas tax revenues are back up to where we expected,” Minton said.

The city collects 9 cents of gas tax per gallon. Of that, 5 cents is paid to the state for the construction of the future Carson City Freeway. The remaining 4 cents per gallon pays for road improvement projects.

Contact Jill Lufrano at jlufrano@nevadaappeal.com or call 881-1217.