New York bill would do away with Port Authority cargo shipping fees

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, February 06, 2014

An effort underway at the New York statehouse would put an end to the collection of a cargo facility charge by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

In 2011, the bi-state agency became the only port in the country to impose a cargo facility charge on all containers passing through the port, by truck or by rail. The fee charged is $4.95 for 20-foot containers, $9.90 for 40-containers, and $1.11 per unit for vehicle cargo.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law last month that prohibits the third-largest port in the nation from charging a fee on cargo facility users, ocean and rail carriers and marine terminal operators.

However, the change doesn’t automatically take effect. Because New Jersey shares control of the Port Authority with New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo must also sign off on the change.

With that in mind, New York Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst, introduced a bill – S6156 – that would adopt the rule change in the Empire State. A fee could still be imposed as long as both parties have a written mutual agreement.

“It is critically important to the economic health of New York State that the New York port remain competitive with other ports around the country, and particularly along the East Coast,” Ranzenhofer wrote in a memo attached to his bill.

Ranzenhofer and others say the legislation is critical to ensure the port’s competitiveness as widening of the Panama Canal nears completion in 2015. The project will allow larger, more modern ships to pass through the port.

“Passage of this law would be a strong signal that New York State is in fact open for business and that we are serious about making New York State economically competitive again.”

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