HARTFORD, Conn.—Rubber manufacturers, tire dealers and retreaders are united in trying to overturn a Connecticut tax court ruling that defines scrap tires as hazardous waste. ``For a tire dealer, this means more recordkeeping, higher insurance costs, a greater cost of compliance and exposure to fines if an audit is done,'' said Gary Petty, senior vice president of the Tire Association of North America.
TANA, the Rubber Manufacturers Association, the International Tire and Rubber Association and the Connecticut Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association are among the organizations seeking to correct this situation—preferably as a quiet amendment to a bill in the Connecticut legislature, Mr. Petty said.
Bob Malerba, president of Malerba's Silver City Tire Co. in Meriden, Conn., and a member of TANA's executive committee, as well as former TANA board member Anne Evans, president of Tyres 2000 Ltd. in Hebron, Conn., are leading the grassroots effort to overturn the hazardous waste definition, according to a brief article in the March 1, 1999, issue of TANA's newsletter Unifax.
The decision came down Dec. 16, 1998, in a tax session of the Connecticut Superior Court. The plaintiffs, officials of the now-defunct Oxford Tire Supply Inc., sought a refund of taxes paid between 1989 and 1994 on their tire collecting activities for the Exeter tires-to-energy plant in Sterling, Conn.
The Connecticut Commissioner of Revenue Services defined scrap tires as ``special waste,'' waste that required special handling, storage and disposal, and the collection fees for which are taxable under Connecticut law.
Oxford, however, argued the tires were hazardous waste and, as such, exempt from state taxation.
With the help of two expert witnesses, Oxford persuaded the court and obtained its refund. ``Waste tires represent threats to the groundwater, air and soil,'' the court stated in its ruling. ``The evidence at trial indicated that in addition to the leaching into the soil and groundwater, tire components may vaporize into the air.''
The court decision was ``not a full judicial review of the case,'' Mr. Petty said, but a specific favorable outcome wrought by ``very articulate and well-prepared defense attorneys'' who staged an end-run around the state's lawyers.
Currently, the associations are engaged in ``a fact-finding and process-reviewing inquiry'' to determine the most efficient way of countering the court's decision, Mr. Petty said. Other persons connected with the case declined comment.