Maybe it's too much to ask for, but New York state should have passed a scrap tire abatement bill in which all the money generated by the fee on new tire sales goes toward cleaning up tire piles and creating markets for recycled tires.
Yes, the new bill is better than the old one and will provide more funds for scrap tire cleanup programs. But a majority of the money generated annually will go into the state's general coffers and not toward reducing its significant scrap tire problem.
This amounts to nothing more than a hidden tax, and tire dealers in New York have every right to be upset about it.
The new scrap tire law, which will take effect Oct. 1, calls for a $2.50 per tire fee to be assessed by tire retailers for ev-ery new tire sold in the state, plus an identical fee gathered on the tires of new cars purchased, including the spare.
Of the $56 million this is expected to generate annually, only about $16.3 million will go toward scrap tire abatement. The law is set to expire in 2010.
While this is disconcerting, the bill also prohibits tire retailers from charging their customers any extra charges to help them with their disposal of scrap tires.
Under the new law, retailers will receive only 25 cents per tire from the $2.50 fee, a sum that doesn't come close to covering the true cost of hiring licensed haulers to take tires away.
According to one tire dealer, the new legislation will cost him an additional $6,000 to $8,000 a year to make up the difference between what he will receive from the state and what he must pay to have his scrap tires hauled away. This, too, is unfair and places an additional financial burden on New York's independent tire dealers.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association and its tire maker members lobbied long and hard to get the New York legislature to establish a workable scrap tire law.
And the bill does address the state's formidable scrap tire problem. The RMA estimates the Empire State generates some 20 million scrap tires annually and has stockpiles of 40 million to 50 million tires. So the association deserves applause for making headway in this area.
But that still doesn't lessen the sting tire dealers feel for a bill that, basically, makes them collect fees under false pretenses. That may be politically expedient, but it's still distasteful-and not right.
The purpose of collecting a fee for scrap tire abatement should be to pay for scrap tire disposal and market development-period.
Tire taxes often seem to be an expedient way to generate funds that, unfortunately, don't always end up where they were supposed to be allocated.
Dealers, besides those in New York, should be wary, lest their legislators see this as a way to help out their states' sagging general funds.