Fuel Smarts

FMCSA Extends Deadline for Comments on State Registration Fees

September 17, 2009

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is giving an additional 10 days for comments on its proposal to increase state registration fees for carriers starting next year, under the Unified Carrier Registration Plan.

The deadline had been Sept. 18. It is now Sept. 28.

The proposed increase is based on the recommendation of 15-member board, which includes representatives of FMCSA, state agencies and the industry. The agency did not follow the board's recommendation exactly, because the board was not able to agree on how best to levy the fees, but settled on a fee schedule that presumes a significant improvement in compliance.

The problem is that the fees in place now have not produced enough revenue: some states have collected what they need, but taken as a whole the states have come up between $27 million and $31 million short each year since the program began in 2007.

Here's what the agency is proposing:
* Up to 2 vehicles - raise the fee from $39 to $87
* 3 - 5 vehicles - from $116 to $258
* 6 - 20 vehicles - from $231 to $514
* 21 - 100 vehicles - from $806 to $1,793
* 101 - 1000 vehicles - from $3,840 to $8,541
* 1001 - 200,000 vehicles - from $37,500 to $83,412

The actual increase is not as large as it appears, because the agency has changed the definition of a "vehicle." Formerly that term included trailers as well as tractors. Now trailers will no longer be counted: starting next year, the fee will be levied only on power equipment.

Private and for-hire carriers as well as freight forwarders, brokers and leasing companies must pay the fees, although the cost varies depending on the type of operation: brokers and leasing companies pay the smallest fee in the schedule.

States use this money to fund their safety programs, as well as other transportation expenses, said transportation attorney Ken Siegel. Payment of the fees is supposed to be enforced at roadside inspections through an online search of state data, but Siegel said that the enforcement program needs improvement.

A decision is due before the end of the year. For more information go to the Federal Register: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-21232.pdf.

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