New Mexico pilot program seeks to collect $50M in lost trucker fees

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 1/27/2016

Truckers driving through New Mexico should make sure they have all their permits ready to go. The state’s Department of Transportation will be launching a pilot program that seeks to recover approximately $50 million in fees left behind by noncompliant drivers.

During a recent state legislative meeting, NMDOT proposed a pilot program that will take state police out of the ports of entry and insert NMDOT employees instead. An NMDOT spokesperson told Land Line the staffing change will allow state police to focus on other aspects of their job while NMDOT employees can collect fees.

“By having DOT employees staff the ports of entry, that will help free up our New Mexico motor transportation police to do safety inspections, rather than staffing the ports of entry to collect the fees,” Matt Kennicott, NMDOT chief public relations officer, told Land Line.

Revenue from the state’s weight-distance tax totals to approximately $75 million a year, according to Kennicott. NMDOT estimates that about another $50 million of revenue is lost from noncompliant trucks passing the 19 points of entry without paying the tax. The WDT applies to vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds.

NMDOT is requesting budgetary authority to receive up to $2 million from the Department of Public Safety and Taxation and Revenue Department. The pilot program is expected to cost approximately $6 million in funds already in the budget.

Changes to occur with the pilot program include staffing at ports of entry and streamlining the permit process. Easier access to permits will hopefully increase the number of permits purchased.

“We do want to be more business friendly and we realize that commercial traffic throughout the state is a big economic engine for us,” Kennicott said. “We want to be business friendly to help streamline the business process in any way we can.”

Pending budgetary authority, the pilot program is expected to launch sometime around July 1.

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