Unshackle Upstate, a taxpayer advocacy organization, wants the New York State Thruway Authority to conduct an audit before it goes through with a proposed 45% increase for trucks with three or more axles.

In a letter to Howard Milstein, chairman of the N.Y. Thruway Authority's board of directors. the group said a thorough audit of the Thruway Authority's operations could identify operational savings that would either eliminate the need for the proposed increase or reduce it dramatically.

"Given the tenuous state of New York's economy, we believe that Chairman Milstein should engage in a thorough review of the Thruway Authority's operations to determine whether this commercial vehicle toll increase is truly necessary," says Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. "Considering the detrimental economic impact that the Thruway's proposal would have on businesses and consumers across the state, we need to put the brakes on any toll increase until this audit is completed."

Sampson pointed to the forensic audit of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority conducted by New York State Comptroller DiNapoli's office in 2010-2011 as an example of what the organization hopes to accomplish with the Thruway.

"The Comptroller's audit focused primarily on abuses within the MTA's payroll and managed to save the MTA more than $6.7 million," Sampson says. "We're optimistic that a top-to-bottom audit of the Thruway could identify even more significant operational efficiencies."

Unshackle Upstate, along with 19 other organizations that are opposed to the proposed toll increase, will testify against it at the upcoming public hearings on the issue in Buffalo, Syracuse and Newburgh. In addition to the letter to Chairman Milstein, Sampson encouraged the public to get involved.

"Not everyone drives a commercial vehicle, but we will all pay the price for this toll hike if we don't stand up and demand that the Thruway review its own finances before taking money from the rest of us," he says.

To view the schedule of the upcoming public hearings on this issue or to share your comments with the Thruway Authority directly, go to the Thruway Authority's website.

To view Unshackle Upstate's letter to New York State Thruway Chairman Milstein, click here.

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6/1/2012 NY Thruway Association Proposes 45% Toll Hike for Trucks