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Toll Hike Leaves New York Anything but “Open for Business”

Post: Jul. 13, 2012


Twenty business groups, including the Council of Industry, have joined together to oppose the New York State Thruway Authority’s proposed 45% toll increase on commercial vehicles. The groups represent over 13,000 companies of all sizes, ranging from farms and grocery stores, to fuel suppliers, lumber mills and manufacturers, who expect to see a significant negative impact on their business as a result of the proposed toll increase.

“The Thruway Authority appears to have no regard for the impact their actions will have on all consumers who rely on the goods delivered by truck,” said Brian Sampson, Executive Director of Unshackle Upstate. “Every time a truck toll is raised, it increases the cost to the consumer. Everything you use, consume or touch will cost more. This does not just hurt the trucking industry. It hurts every manufacturing business and every farmer. As a result, this new increased tax will be absorbed by every taxpayer in New York.”

Nearly 90% of New York’s communities rely exclusively on trucks to deliver their goods. Transportation costs factor into the price of any commodity.

“Trucks are used in nearly every part of the manufacturing process,” said Randy Wolken, President of The Manufacturers Association and The Manufacturers Alliance of New York. “Raw materials are transported by truck, so the cost of manufacturing will increase as the tolls on trucks increase. Consumers won’t just see their ‘shipping and handling’ charges increase, they’ll see the cost of every product increase.”

The Thruway Authority has proposed a 45% toll increase on commercial vehicles with 3 axles or more, to support their 2012-15 capitol plan, which does not include the planned $5 billion replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge, spanning the Hudson River between Rockland and Westchester counties. The Thruway Authority was unable to complete the projects in their budget with the revenue from toll hikes for their 2005-2011 capital program, leaving many concerned about the mismanagement of toll revenue.

The Thruway Authority’s questionable financial decisions are well-documented. In 2008, the New York State Comptroller found the authority’s planned (and subsequently implemented) toll increases were not justified and that the authority needed to undertake a review to control spending and find alternative revenue options. Additionally, it found that the authority’s capital planning process allowed practices that did not sufficiently consider the need for accountability and transparency.

The Thruway Authority raised the toll regardless and took no action on the comptroller’s recommendations. “The Thruway Authority has mismanaged their finances for years and to make up for it, they’re asking average consumers to foot the bill through increased transportation costs,” said Kendra Adams, President of the New York State Motor Truck Association. “They are showing total disregard for what it will do to consumers, how it will impact communities along alternate routes and what it will do the economy of New York. And make no mistake, every New Yorker will foot the bill.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has declared New York “open for business,” while discussing the use of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s toll increases to fund the building of the Ground Zero site in Manhattan stated, “The taxpayer, the toll payer, is not an endless, bottomless well for government to dip into to cure their incompetence.”

The organizations that plan to go to Gov. Cuomo, legislators and the Thruway Authority with the concerns of their members, include:

American Trucking Associations

Council of Industry

Empire State Forest Products Association

Empire State Petroleum Association

Empire State Towing and Recovery Association

Food Industry Alliance of New York

Manufacturers Alliance of New York

Manufacturers Association

National Federation of Independent Business

National Private Truck Council

New York Association of Convenience Stores

New York Farm Bureau

New York State Motor Truck Association

New York State Movers and Warehouseman’s Association

Northeast Ag & Feed Alliance

Northeast Dairy Foods Association, Inc.

Northeastern Retail Lumber Association

Retail Council of New York State

Rochester Transportation Council

Unshackle Upstate