With the lifting of taxes, how much have gasoline prices changed at Connecticut stations?

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Drivers anticipating relief from soaring gas prices saw costs drop 25 cents or more at many Connecticut gas stations on Friday, as the state entered the first day of a waiver from the three-month gasoline tax.

Statewide, the majority of retailers appeared to be complying with legislation requiring them to suspend collection of Connecticut’s 25-cent-per-gallon excise tax on gasoline. However, reporters from the Hearst Connecticut Media Group who recorded prices for dozens of gas stations found several that hadn’t budged on their prices.

In Norwalk, for example, all but one of the eight petrol stations visited by reporters were selling regular petrol for around 25 cents less than they were on Thursday, and in nearby Westport two stations had fallen their prices of 50 cents or more.

Stamford, where reporters found some of the highest prices in the state, saw a similar drop in prices, even though gasoline remained above $4 at every station.

In New Haven, two of the seven stations visited by reporters had not dropped a penny since Thursday, while the others had lowered prices by 25 to 30 cents per gallon.

In Hamden, prices at the Citgo station on Dixwell Avenue fell about 30 cents overnight, and a gallon of regular gas was selling for $3.98 by mid-afternoon Friday.

The decrease surprised Sam Banti, who said he was unaware of the tax cut until he left to help a friend who needed to refuel a U-Haul truck.

Banti drives a hybrid vehicle, he says, so he doesn’t have to worry too much about rising gas prices.

“It’s still the most I’ve ever spent on gasoline,” Banti said.

At the Sunoco station on Universal Drive in North Haven, prices held steady between Thursday and Friday at $4.29 a gallon.

“These (prices) are the same as they were,” said Bob Delvecchio, a local resident filling up his car Friday afternoon on his way to work.

Still, he said, the price was cheaper than most places in the area.

Michael Fox, executive director of Gasoline and Automotive Service Dealers of America, said most station owners had no choice but to lower their prices or watch customers drive elsewhere. Still, he said, the sudden change in prices had left many homeowners on the fence.

In anticipation of the gas tax exemption, Fox said many station owners are planning deliveries on Friday, when they could avoid paying thousands of dollars in wholesale fuel taxes. Suppliers, however, weren’t able to fill that many orders on any given day, Fox said, so many tankers showed up Thursday afternoon and evening to drop off fuel, leaving station owners pay a tax that they could not pass on to customers’ hours. later.

Adding to the problem, President Joe Biden’s decision on Thursday to release millions of barrels of oil from the country’s strategic reserves has compounded the problem, driving down the cost of wholesale gas by another 13 cents overnight.

“These guys who got early delivery scheduled for Friday, they’re now 38 cents off the market,” Fox said.

During an appearance at a Hartford gas station on Friday to promote the start of the gas tax exemption, Governor Ned Lamont warned that stations that do not immediately reduce prices could face d possible sanctions from the state, although they have previously said that it could take several days for the prices. to fall.

“It should be right now,” Lamont said. “We passed this bill a week ago, we wanted to give gas station operators a week to exhaust their reserves, buy new gas wholesale with a 25 cent tax cut, and hopefully that this will be conveyed to voters now.”

According to AAA, the average cost of regular gasoline in Connecticut on Friday was $4.27, a drop of less than 2 cents since Thursday, the last day the state collected the gasoline tax.

Fox said AAA’s data tends to lag several days and will likely start showing a bigger drop in average gasoline prices by the end of the weekend.

Attorney General William Tong issued a statement on Friday, saying his office was prepared to investigate any retailer suspected of collecting the 25-cent gas tax in violation of the law, although he also warned that he did not provide any guarantee for the price of gasoline.

“It is important to remember that prices at the pump will continue to fluctuate with changes in wholesale prices. Not all gasoline price increases or decreases are related to the 25-cent tax or constitute a price increase,” Tong said. “Each complaint will be investigated and all facts will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

Fox said station owners, frustrated by the rollout of the gas tax exemption, were prepared to vigorously defend their prices if questioned by Tong’s office, including fighting any subpoenas to hand over. commercial documents.

“If the [attorney general] wants to fight and comes and thinks he’s going to accuse a retailer of a scam, good luck,” Fox said. “Our association attorney is prepared to defend any such retailers who receive a letter from the Attorney General.”

At this time, Fox said there is nothing the state can do to help retailers who find themselves with more expensive gasoline in their tanks. Customers are happy to drive around to find the lowest advertised prices in their area, he noted.

One such customer, Thad Stanley of New Haven, said he was frustrated with gasoline prices rising to as high as $4.60 in the area, and was surprised on Friday when all of a sudden, he saw stations advertising much better deals along Route 34 heading into town.

When he reached Whalley Avenue, he said he saw gasoline selling for $4.08 cash at the Citgo station and knew he had to stop.

“That’s the lowest price I’ve seen,” Stanley said. “If it could go below $4, that would be even better.”

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