For a crowd in Colchester, gas prices are putting a pinch on their wallets and they want answers.
"To treat Chittenden County like it's an interstate exit ramp in its entirety is absolutely ludicrous," said Alex Weinhagen of Westford.
At a hearing in Montpelier earlier Tuesday, fuel experts testified that prices in Chittenden County are often in the top 15 of 400 retail gas markets in the country. And often higher than other regions of the state. It's an issue that's gotten the attention of Senator Bernie Sanders, who called for an investigation. But fuel distributor, Skip Vallee, says the high cost to do business in Vermont leads to higher prices at the pump.
"I am between six and ten cents cheaper than Island Pond and Newport, Vermont," explains Cheryl Cote of Canaan.
Cheryl Cote has owned a gas station for 40 years in Canaan. She's had to lower her prices because her customers are gassing up in nearby New Hampshire instead. She says prices there are often a dime cheaper because New Hampshire has a lower gas tax.
"I have to try to stay competitive with my neighbors but I still need to make something so I can you know do things like repair equipment," continued Cote.
Cote says dropping her prices is also dropping her revenue. She's laid off two mechanics and is struggling to pay the bills. Others in the crowd urged lawmakers to find new ways to generate transportation tax revenue instead of relying so much on the pump.
"There's some interesting experiments going around the country now to try to come up with alternate ways to come up with funding for transportation other than just by the gas tax," said Carl Fowler of Brattleboro.
He suggests lowering the gas tax, but increasing sales tax or income tax. But lawmakers haven't decided what, if any, action should be taken in the immediate future.
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