Kansas considers fuel tax buffer zone

| 9/18/2006

A proposal to create a fuel tax buffer within 3,000 feet of the border in the state of Kansas is getting mixed reviews, according to testimony at a recent public meeting.

The Kansas Legislature’s Joint Tax Committee met Thursday, Sept. 14, to discuss aligning its fuel prices with the neighboring states of Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado, which are lower on average with the exception of Nebraska.

Kansas charges 25 cents per gallon for gasoline and 27 cents for diesel, while Oklahoma charges 17 cents for gas and 14 cents for diesel and Colorado charges 22 cents for gas and 20.5 cents for diesel. Missouri charges 17.6 cents for both while Nebraska charges 27 cents. The federal government tacks on another 18.4 cents per gallon.

As a result of the differences between the states, many border towns like Coffeyville, KS, see motorists and truckers crossing into South Coffeyville, OK, to buy cheaper fuel.

The proposed buffer zone would reduce the fuel taxes to within 1 percent of what neighboring states charge. The measure would reduce the effects of the crossover traffic, according to meeting testimony, reported by The Associated Press.

Critics of the plan say it will take valuable dollars out of state coffers to the tune of $13.4 million from gasoline and $5.4 million from diesel per year.

Richard Cram, director of policy with the Kansas Department of Transportation, testified that 17 percent of the state’s population is within the proposed buffer between Kansas and Missouri, and that a reduced tax zone would prove costly in that region.