SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Ketchikan's gas prices & taxes
By John Goucher


December 10, 2012
Monday PM

I recently visited Ketchikan for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Ketchikan was where I hung my hat for over 30 years and both of my daughters and my fiancee still call Ketchikan home. Living in Oregon this past year and visiting Ketchikan as often as possible has made me cogitate on many things in Ketchikan that folks have come to expect. Large utility bills, high food prices, multitudes of "Fees" and taxes by both the City and Borough and of course outrageous gasoline prices.

This brings me to my point regarding gas prices in relation to gas taxes. The U.S. government adds 18.4 cents to the price of our gasoline and then each state adds a tax to help pay for road repairs. Alaska adds only 8 cents to the gas prices bringing Alaska's gas tax to 26.4 cents per gallon of gas. This is the lowest gas tax in the nation, congratulations Alaska! The price of a gallon of gas in Ketchikan over the Thanksgiving holiday was 4.31 per gallon at Safeway. Now most of your gas is shipped via barge from Washington State, where the average price of gas, over the same period was 3.51 per gallon (retail). I imagine that fuel bought in bulk is somewhat cheaper, but I do not know that for sure. Now let's take off the taxes....26.4 cents in Ketchikan and 55.9 cents for Washington. Now the price of gas in Ketchikan would only be 4.05 (approximate) per gallon and in Washington only 2.96 per gallon (approximate). So, and I know this is simple math and that there may be other factors, if a barge brought up 500,000 gallons of fuel to Ketchikan from Washington State at a cost of 2.96 per gallon and sells it in Ketchikan for 4.05 per gallon it would mean that the cost of shipping and of course the profit made by the wholesale distributor would be $545,000.00.... Hmmmm interesting. Either the shipping cost is outrageous, or someone is making a lot of money.

When I lived in Ketchikan it seemed that there was always a "reason" why the fuel prices go up so fast and stay so long, but go down slowly for a short period of time. Once a year our Representative in the State legislature would call for an investigation of the high prices. But of course all they can investigate is whether there is an effort among the retail sellers to keep prices up. I do realize that there are factors that I do not know about, so this is just a "rough around the edges" observation on my part.

Ketchikan is a town full of wonderful folks who deserve to pay fair prices.

P.S. Here in Oregon I buy my gas at the Safeway station in Junction City. Over the Thanksgiving holiday gas was 3.35 per gallon and if you take away Oregon's 49.5 cent gas tax that would be 2.85 per gallon. My Father lives in Northern California and they were paying 4.05 per gallon and taking away the 69 cent tax 3.36 per gallon.

John Goucher
Harrisburg, OR

About: "I lived in Ketchikan from December of 1980 until October of 2011. I now live in Oregon, but still have family in Ketchikan. As far as expertise on Gas pricing... I have only the knowledge as a user of Gasoline for 44 years."

Received December 07, 2012 - Published December 10, 2012



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