- - Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ANNAPOLIS — Marcellus Davis, who drives from Waldorf, Md., to his job as a facilities manager in Arlington every day, buys his gas near his Maryland home.

“I wouldn’t say it’s cheaper, but it’s probably about the same,” Mr. Davis said, of the difference in gas prices between Maryland and Virginia.

But Virginia is considering repealing its 17.5-cent per gallon tax, while Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. wants to increase Maryland's 23.5-cent tax, which may make some interstate commuters decide to fill up in Virginia instead of Maryland.

Mr. Davis, for one, would buy his gas in Virginia if a gas tax increase in Maryland or the proposed repeal in Virginia occurred.

“Look at how much money I spend on my commute. It’s $130 or so a week,” Mr. Davis said.

The current average cost of gas in Maryland is $3.38 per gallon, while Virginia’s is $3.25, according to the American Automobile Association’s daily fuel gauge report.

Mr. Davis is one of more than 132,000 Maryland residents who commutes to a job in Virginia, according to a report compiled from 2010 Census data created by the Maryland State Data Center.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, proposed two weeks ago that the state’s gasoline tax be repealed. This week, Mr. Miller said he plans to introduce legislation by Monday that would raise the gas tax in Maryland.

The increase, part of a multi-pronged approach, would go toward funding Maryland's Transportation Trust Fund.

But an increase in the gas tax is not popular with Maryland residents. Even though 94 percent of Marylanders think it is important to maintain and improve the state’s transportation system, 73 percent are against a gas tax increase of 10 cents, according to a poll released this week by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies, Inc.

An increase in the tax is also unpopular with some gas station owners.

Huong Ngo, who has owned Seabrook Citgo in Lanham for 23 years, doubts that Virginia repealing its gas tax would have much of an effect on where commuters buy their gas. However, he is worried about a gas tax increase in Maryland.

“It will cause the business to drop and gas is already too expensive,” Mr. Ngo said. He is a member of the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware Service Station and Auto Repair Association and has helped petition against the gas tax before.

Kirk McCauley, the association’s director of member relations, is also concerned about an increase in the tax.

“It would be a disaster for Maryland gas stations,” Mr. McCauley said. “Even Maryland thinking about raising their tax doesn’t make sense when border states are cheaper.” There is no question in Mr. Miller’s mind that a gas tax hike in Maryland, or a repeal of the gas tax in Virginia, would affect where Maryland to Virginia commuters buy their gas.

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