Truckers Oppose New Portland Surcharges
A new policy in Portland has many truckers upset. Commissioner Steve Novick has expressed intentions to make heavy trucks pay more for roads – and trucking companies have expressed their vehement opposition to such a measure. The plan, which is designed to make $2.5 million from trucking companies that operate with Portland’s city limits, was discussed before the city council. Many truckers and managers of trucking companies were present and claimed that this idea (which was the less burdensome of two ideas discussed) was still unfair to the trucking industry.
Trucking companies are already required to pay weight-mile taxes to the state for their use of roads. However, this plan would add a 2.8 percent surcharge to this fee. The new policy would apply to freight companies that pay for a Portland business license and who pick up or deliver goods in the city. Multiple owners voiced their opposition to the policy, primarily due to what is perceived as a flaw in its design.
Many truckers drive throughout the city but don’t make the majority of their journey on city streets. Shelly Boshart, an employee of a south Albany-based trucking company said: “We literally use five minutes of Portland roads every trip – that’s it.” Many truckers agreed with this type of sentiment, maintaining that a very small percentage of their company’s miles were actually added in Portland.
Many drivers believe that this charge will unfairly affect larger carriers. Keith Wilson of Milwaukie-based Titan Freight Systems said: “This tax is going to put a burden on us versus a smaller carrier who’s in the market. That is uncompetitive.” The appeals proved worthwhile, as many members of the council agreed that changes should be held off until 2018 when freight operations will be required to use GPS units to track their miles in Portland.
Though this measure was originally drafted to cover the damage that large commercial vehicles do the roads, many feel that it could actually hurt the city’s economy. By making it more expensive for freight services to operate within city limits, city officials run the risk of putting businesses in the area at a disadvantage. Most trucking companies are open to the idea of paying their fair share – but only when that number is based off the actual miles they drive on Portland roads.