East Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The Thruway Authority is hearing plenty of outrage over its plan to hike the toll for truckers by 45 percent at the end of September.
The agency says the increase is needed to help deal with the double-digit increases in maintenance and health care costs.
The first of three public hearings took place in Buffalo on Thursday, while East Syracuse will host the second on Friday.
But many Central New Yorkers who oppose the plan are getting a head start on being vocal about it.
The increase arrives just seven years after the fourth increase. Its four increases in the last 7 years, leave it out if you want, it won't heavily impact the web version. The increase is not part of a proposal, but a plan set to go into effect at the end of September. While it spares passenger vehicles directly, opponents say an increase for trucks will impact everyone.
“Economics 101 again folks…it all gets passed on some way to the consumer,” said Gary Douglas of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. “It is another one of the 50-year process of hidden taxes.”
Several groups representing heavy users of the highway system expressed their concerns on Thursday. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli even came out this week and said a toll hike should be a last resort and that the Thruway Authority should look to cut costs and examine other options.
“What this is about for us is not about passenger cars, not about trucks, this is about the Thruway Authority getting its house in order,” said Brian Sampson of Unshackle Upstate.
For businesses like Byrne Dairy, for instance, they anticipate spending an extra $200,000 on transportation every year if the increase goes into effect.
“I don’t doubt this is going to have a significant impact,” said Randy Wolken of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York. “45 percent is really outrageous for a cost increase in today’s economy and I think it’s egregious to even be asking for such a larger raise.”
The Thruway Authority says it’s looking at ways to control costs, which are far outpacing revenue, but must maintain a safe and reliable roadway. The Thruway Authority says trucks should shoulder more of the costs considering they do greater damage to the system than cars.
Opponents of the hike say the increase will damage them and the people who rely on truckers.
Friday’s public hearing will be held at the Double Tree Hotel at Carrier Circle from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.