Residents enjoying drop in gas prices
The average price of gas in Marion County dropped 6 cents, according to news reports in Indianapolis this week. Gas prices at many stations are at $2.32 in Indianapolis and $2.44 statewide.
In Greencastle, prices are averaging about $2.46 a gallon. In Groveland they are at $2.38 and in Crawfordsville they are about $2.26 a gallon.
In Brownsburg, one station is selling gasoline for $1.93 a gallon. This is about a 50 percent drop from two months ago.
Crude oil fell to about $62 a barrel Tuesday after topping out at $147 in July. Experts are predicting it could drop even lower to the mid-$40s soon.
"Prices are still too high in Greencastle," said local residents pumping gas at Gas America and Speedway in Greencastle Wednesday.
"It's better than it was a month ago, but it doesn't make sense to me that we are paying more here. We always seem to be paying higher prices here than in towns around us," said Mike Clinton.
The lowest average price recently was in January 2007, when Hoosiers were paying $2.04. It hasn't been under the $2 mark since May 2005, according to AAA records.
With gas prices hovering around $2.46 a gallon, consumers said they were feeling a little more confident about their household budgets.
"With prices getting lower, that's got to make it easier for folks to do the things they like to do this time of year, which is mostly get ready for Christmas," Clinton said.
Another local resident, Paula Marsh, said she paid as much as $4.59 a gallon several months ago. Marsh said she was relieved by lower prices, although she added, "They could go right back up and we'll be screwed again."
Retail gasoline prices are based on multiple factors: competition, location, distance from refineries, gasoline taxes and required gasoline additives," said Jason Toews, co-founder of Gas Buddy.com, a Web site where drivers report local gasoline prices in their communities.
"Indiana has higher gas prices than Ohio, in part, because Indiana has higher state gasoline taxes and also charges sales tax on gasoline, which Ohio doesn't," Toews said.
State and federal taxes in Ohio account for 46.4 cents per gallon of the price of gasoline in Ohio. Indiana drivers pay 50.1 cents per gallon in state and federal taxes plus 7 percent in sales tax, which increased 1 percent beginning in April. When gasoline is $3 a gallon, drivers buying fuel in Indiana pay 21 cents in sales tax.
Charging sales tax on gasoline is an issue in the Indiana gubernatorial campaign, with Democrat Jill Long Thompson promising to cap sales taxes on fuel when it reaches $2.75 per gallon. Incumbent Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels disagrees with Thompson on the issue and took no action this year to cut sales taxes.
Taxes, though, don't account for the price differences across Indiana.
Cities usually have more competitive gas prices if they have a couple of big-box discount stores with stations, such as a Costco and Sam's Club or Wal-Mart," says Toews on his Web site.
"The number of service stations per capita is also a factor in lower prices. Oil companies' price gasoline by zone, and stations in different zones pay a different wholesale price, even if they're in the same city.
"It depends on the mix of stations and their pricing strategies," he said. "Sometimes the pricing is just arbitrary, whatever the market will bear."
According to data released last week from the Transportation Department, from last November through August, Americans drove 78.1 billion fewer miles than they did over the same 10-month period a year earlier.
"With the economy so iffy, you just don't want to take chances on spending money when you don't absolutely have to," added Marsh.