Dealers Object to 50-Cent Fee on Tyres
(Burlington (VT) Free Press) Rep. Jon Anderson, D-Montpelier, wants to put a 50-cent fee on each new tyre sold in Vermont to raise about $300,000 to help Green-Up Day volunteers and solid waste districts cover costs associated with illegally dumped tyres.
“I don’t want to overstate the tyre problem,” Anderson said. “It’s 1 per cent to 2 per cent of the tyres sold, but that is still 6,000 to 12,000 tyres.”
His plan isn’t popular with tyre and auto dealers, who lined up to testify before the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee this week. They downplayed the problem Anderson is trying to solve and emphasised the detrimental impact on business of another government fee.
“I don’t feel there is a need for any kind of a tax or fee,” said Dick Cole, executive director of the New England Tire and Service Association, which represents 290 tyre dealers. “Our industry is being singled out,” he said.
Pointing to pictures of debris pulled from the Winooski River last fall, Cole argued that the real problem is dumped trash and noted that many of the tyres found along roadsides and in rivers have been there for a long time.
Terry Sheahan, president of Goss Tire Co. with five stores in Vermont, argued that tyre dealers recycle 90 per cent to 95 per cent of the tyres sold in the state. When customers buy new tyres, dealers offer to dispose of their old tyres for fees ranging from $1.50 to $2.50, Sheahan said. The dealers ship used tyres to recyclers who turn them into fuel or engineering products such as chipped-up pieces used as a drainage layer for a road project.
“The scrap tyre stream is very well managed by the private sector,” Sheahan said.
He and other tyre dealers told lawmakers that the tyre business is very competitive. Sheahan, who has a store in St. Johnsbury, about 20 miles from New Hampshire, said “adding another $2 to the price would encourage our customers to go across the border.”
Bob Rochefort of Vermont Tire Co., with stores in Montpelier and South Burlington, said, “We are fighting every day to save sales because people are buying on the Internet.”
Marilyn Miller, executive director of the Vermont Auto Dealers Association, also objected to the fee, which would be $2.50 per new car – for four mounted tyres and a spare.
New car sales have been off by 20 per cent in the last year, she reported. “Vermont dealers are dealing with a pretty difficult climate right now.”
Rep. David Deen, D-Westminster, questioned how much of a deterrent to buying a fee of $2.50 would pose, considering the prices of vehicles.
“Right now, anything and everything that is happening is having an impact,” Miller replied.
Anderson remained dogged in his determination to do something about tyre litter and told the business representatives “I don’t think we are sending a message that tyre dealers are irresponsible. It is some number of the consumers.”
That’s why the fee is targeted at consumers, he said. The money raised from the small fee would be dispersed by the Agency of Natural Resources to reduce expenses for municipal cleanups and amnesty days now sponsored by solid waste districts – expenses that Anderson said are covered now by property taxes.
The Chittenden Solid Waste District, for example, holds two amnesty days a year, which cost about $20,000, said Tom Moreau, general manager. When towns bring in tyres collected on Green-Up Day, he added, “we eat the cost.”
The bill faces other challenges.
James Surwilo of the waste management division in the Department of Environmental Conservation told lawmakers, “We don’t have any resources to administer it.” Nor is it a priority, he added.
The committee could decide today whether to go forward with the legislation despite the criticism. (Tire Review/Akron)