SOUTHINGTON, Conn. — On July 1, Connecticut's tax on diesel fuel will increase, but it has not yet been determined by the Department of Revenue Services what that rate will be. And the rate hike is no doubt unwelcome news for the trucking industry, their customers and consumers.
While the current diesel tax in Connecticut sits at 40.1 cents per gallon, that number could be bumped up significantly come July 1. Then, six months later, truckers will be hit harder.
According to AAA, the average price per gallon for diesel fuel in Connecticut has nearly doubled since a year ago to $6.17.
"It gets to the point where you don't want to come to places like the east coast or far west because diesel is a dollar more than the rest of the country," said Jamaal Lewis, the Owner/Operator of J. Lewis Logistics, out of Atlanta, GA.
Truckers says it's not uncommon to have customers frustrations over escalating prices taken out on them.
"Attitudes get a little bit tweaked and people start getting angry with each other and stuff can happen," said Paul Fenochietti, a trucker for Barr-Nunn Transportation of Granger, IA. He was traveling through Connecticut on his way to Bethlehem, PA.
As if tensions are not already high enough, come January 1, Connecticut's new highway use tax, assessed to large commercial trucks, will kick in at between $.2.5 and $.17.5 per gallon, which is determined by weight.
"I'm literally watching companies go out of business or not quite out of business, but the owner operators just sit their trucks," said Lewis, who was making a delivery to Bloomfield late Monday afternoon.
Fewer truckers traveling contributes to supply chain issues on top of massive price increases for end users.
"We get about 40 pages a week of price increases and there's 30 items on a page," said John Salerno, owner of Tops Marketplace in the Plantsville section of Southington.
Tops, like many companies, is assessed delivery charges and fuel surcharges, but they do offer 5% off purchases of $50 or more to soften the blow for customers.
"JC Penney and Target had horrible earnings recently and it was because they were trying not to pass these increases onto their consumers," said Joel Johnson, Johnson Brunetti Retirement & Investment Specialists.
Johnson says while these are stressful times, hopefully you have some level of emergency funds. But, if all you have is retirement savings you can't touch?
"You probably need to suspend contributions to your retirement plans for now," Johnson advised. "That's better for a while than borrowing money."
Meaning usage of credit cards.
"Not only are the prices much higher but still they are out of a lot of regular items that you need and you have to go from grocery store to grocery store," said Claudia Licursi of Southington.
That's due in part to some truckers deciding they are going to sit out more trips.
"In February I might gross $8,500 for the week and come home with $4000," said Lewis. "Last week I grossed $7,100 and came home with $800...I think we'll still be the lowest diesel in the region which is a good start and more importantly we've got a lot of our tax cuts kicking in over the next month."
The Motor Transport Association of Connecticut is among the organizations urging the Governor and legislature to call a special session this summer or fall to suspend the diesel tax hike and repeal the highway use fee.
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