Overweight fees a revenue grab in Houston, truckers say

| Friday, July 20, 2007

Trucking company representatives and owner-operators are planning to speak out against a proposed ordinance in Houston to require overweight or oversized trucks to pay for city permits in addition to existing state fees.

The Houston City Council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance during a meeting Aug. 1. The council will not be in session Wednesday, July 25, as previously reported.

The Texas Motor Truck Association is rounding up comments from its member motor carriers to present during a public comment session beginning at 9 a.m., July 31, at Houston City Hall.

Members of the public will also be allowed to speak at that meeting, and some owner-operators are planning to make their voices heard.

The ordinance, if passed, would require a city permit for trucks larger than 65 feet long, 14 feet high and 102 inches wide, including the load, or those with more weight than the axle formula allows in interstate hauling.

OOIDA member Danny Schnautz of Pasadena, TX, said the city ordinance is nothing more than a revenue grab at the expense of truck drivers.

“What they’re saying is, you not only have to have a state permit for over-width, over-height or (overweight loads), but you have to get a city permit, and that’s just ludicrous,” Schnautz told Land Line.

“It creates more of a burden for us in time and it’s more expensive for us, even though we can pass it on, to move a load.”

The council was scheduled to vote Wednesday, July 18, but several of the city’s 14 council members wanted more input from the trucking industry before moving forward.

Council Member Adrian Garcia, who is reported as having said he proposed the ordinance to reduce road damage caused by heavy trucks and to raise revenue to pay for road maintenance, has scheduled a private meeting next week with the Texas motor carriers, Garcia’s secretary, Rhonda Sauter, told Land Line.

A spokesman for the Texas Motor Truck Association said the association’s position was, at the present time, not public, but would be shared during the city council session.

The proposed ordinance contains a schedule of permit fees ranging from $145 for a single trip to an annual pass of $2,035 per oversize or overweight truck.

Each of the proposed fees includes a $25 permit payment to the police department for commercial vehicle enforcement and a $10 processing fee.

The schedule of fees is proposed as follows:

  • Single trip – $145 for overweight; $145 for mobile crane; $95 for over-length or over-width; $185 for over-height; $830 for “super heavy” (not defined in the proposed ordinance)
  • 30 day – $175 for overweight; $190 for mobile crane; $135 for over-length or over-width
  • 60 day – $350 for overweight; $320 for mobile crane; $270 for over-length or over-width
  • 90 day – $525 for overweight; $470 for mobile crane; $405 for over-length or over-width
  • Annual – $1,875 for overweight; $950 for mobile crane; $1,500 for over-length or over-width
  • Annual package – $2,035
  • Semi-annual package – $1,235

The proposed ordinance states that the director of administration can set or adjust fees for road maintenance on an annual basis.

– By David Tanner, staff writer
david_tanner@landlinemag.com

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