Connecticut truckers say it’s unfair for the state to benefit from the 6.3 percent sales tax on vehicle repairs when it’s the brine the state puts on the roads that causes the damage.
Michael Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association, said the state should give truckers a tax break on the repairs caused by the Transportation Department’s use of magnesium chloride during winter months.
The components on these trucks usually last 10 years, but often they are obsolete in five years because of the materials the state is putting on the roads, Riley said Monday.
He said he heard from one of his members who was cleaning up the body of a flatbed truck and 200 pounds of metal came off the vehicle.
“The state shouldn’t benefit from this damage it caused,” Riley said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy wasn’t convinced a tax exemption for truckers was necessary.
He said truckers have the ability to write-off the cost of a commercial vehicle over the life of that vehicle as part of their taxes.
“That already exists with respect to depreciation,” Malloy said.
As far as the average motorist is concerned, Malloy said, what “we’re trying to do is keep people safe and not take on all responsibility in all cases.”
Rep. Pam Sawyer, R-Bolton, successfully amended an omnibus transportation bill with a study of the materials the state puts on its highways. The bill still has to pass both chambers, but if it does the study would be completed before next winter.
She said she understands why Riley would seek the tax exemption. She said the damage to the brake lines and undercarriage of vehicles is substantial and costly for commercial truck drivers and residents.
Riley said they’ve tried to get the state to add a rust inhibitor to the brine they use on the road, but have been unsuccessful.
“Let me assure you, we have spent a lot of money this year on preparing our roads,” Malloy said Monday at an unrelated press event. “And blown through budgets quite frankly in the millions of dollars.”
He suggested that maybe there’s a greater need for trucks to get better “coatings” to prevent corrosion.
Riley said there’s no such thing as a coating that prevents the type of corrosion they’re seeing. He said it costs about $1,800 to get the brake lines of a vehicle replaced and it’s more than just truckers who are upset about this.
An Office of Legislative Research report released earlier this year says the state started using liquid chemicals to pre-wet salt in 2006. The state started with calcium chloride, but switched to magnesium chloride, which was cheaper and more readily available. In 2007 it experimented with a rust inhibitor, but the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were concerned it was depleting oxygen levels in state streams, posing a threat to aquatic life.
“We carefully balance our application rates and even calibrate our equipment regularly to ensure that we don’t use more material than we have to and that we strategically apply materials with little or no waste,” Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the Transportation Department said Monday. “We believe we have struck the best balance putting safety first while addressing concerns about the environment and corrosion through our judicious use of snow and ice chemicals.”