N.Y. truckers plan protest convoy

Published June, 24 2008

New York truckers plan a June 19 rally at the state’s capitol to protest the state’s ton- mile tax and other state issues hurting the industry.

Charles Claburn of Hudson Falls started Truckers and Citizens United of New York four months ago after parking his truck. The owner-operator had been leased to Wal-Mart, but diesel and other burdensome business costs motivated him to put his efforts into trying to improve the state’s business climate for owner-operators.

Following a couple of meetings with state representatives over the problems, he is organizing a convoy of truckers and other motorists to bring attention to issues affecting the industry. Albany police and capitol officials have given them permission for the convoy and to host a speakers rally in front of the capitol.

Speakers will include state assembly members and trucking representatives. Radio talk show host Mark Williams of WROW 590 has promoted the event and will travel with the convoy and help host the events. After the rally, Claburn and others will meet with state transportation officials to discuss a DOT proposal to move more truck traffic from local road onto Interstates.

About 400 truckers are expected, with one convoy leaving Fultonville and another leaving Fort Ann. TCUNY has 7,500 members and nearly all are owner-operators or small fleet owners, he said.

A major issue is that New York is one of four states that have a ton-mile tax, also known as the highway use tax. Assembly members have considered bills since 1999 to eliminate the tax, the latest being A6435, which was held for consideration April 29 in the Ways and Means committee.

The tax, which affects trucks weighing 18,000 pounds or more, cost Claburn $7,500 last year and is based on miles traveled. The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association and the New York State Motor Truck Association support ending this tax.

Another bill the group is supporting would eliminate state fuel taxes during the summer and also would allow local governments the option of waiving local sales taxes of 14 cents per gallon.

The Senate passed that bill (S7594A) May 7 and referred it to the House Ways and Means committee. If that bill were in effect, Claburn said he could buy 400 gallons of fuel for the local price of $5.17 per gallon and save $113 on a fill-up in state tax alone.

Other issues include:

  • A DOT proposal to make truckers use Interstates as much as possible and establish a routing hierarchy for their travel.
  • An increasing number of the state’s truckers receiving tickets for minor equipment violations, such as a $125 fine for a marker light being out.
  • The New York Thruway, which raised truck tolls at least 15 percent in January, is hiking tolls again this month 15 to 20 percent.

    The Fultonville convoy will assemble off Exit 28 of the New York Thruway at the Betty Beaver Truck Stop to leave at 9 a.m. They will travel down Albany’s State Street by 10 a.m. and encircle the Capitol Building

    More information is available by contacting Claburn at (518) 810-1776 or at his group’s website.

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