State Assemblymen George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, and Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, conducted a news conference at the Fultonville Superstop to draw attention to the fast rising cost of diesel fuel.
“We are reaching a point of frustration and desperation,” Lopez said. “People are deciding between putting food on their table or gas in their tank or oil heater.”
Lopez was in attendance to draw attention to his “Tax Free Bio-Diesel Legislation.” The bill would make bio-diesel tax free for driving, home heating and other possible uses. Lopez said this would help lower the cost to the consumer and make this alterative energy more affordable.
Truck driver Charlie Clayburn, who spoke on behalf of the more than 40 independent truck drivers in attendance, helped to get the meeting off the ground by speaking with Amedore about the crushing effect of $4-a-gallon diesel prices and high taxes on the trucking industry.
“Go to your elected officials and tell them we want our taxes back and we want to make New York great again,” Clayburn said.
Amedore said he got involved because he is a small-business owner himself and knows the frustration of the high gas prices and over taxation that was being discussed. He said he received a call from Clayburn, who asked him to get involved.
“I told all of my district I was going to roll my sleeves up and get to work,” Amedore said. “Charlie called me and said ‘if someone doesn’t get something done now, we’ll go out of business.’”
Trucker Paul Looman of Gloversville said fuel is costing him $800 to $900 a week. He estimated that by the end of this year, he would have a net income of around $13,000 instead of the usual $35,000. He said he has used up his safety net of funds and is at a point of desperation.
“[Truckers] are taken advantage of for everything we do,” Lowman said in reference to an increasing number of taxes affixed to one-ton and above drivers.
Amedore spoke about the need to end the one-ton tax. New York puts a tax on vehicles weighing more than 1,800 pounds for each mile driven.
“We need the government to give us immediate relief by passing legislation that minimizes the cost for the industry,” Amedore said.
Trucker Bill Sutton said around 2,500 trucks are repossessed weekly due to truckers being unable to make ends meet because of the cost of diesel and the high taxation rate in New York.
“It’s going to end here. We’ve had enough,” Sutton.
Truck stop owner Vince Gramuglia offered Gov. David Paterson, who was not at the news conference, the keys to his truck and truck stop during the news conference.
“Here’s the keys to my truck stop and the keys to my truck. If you don’t do something soon, you can have them,” Gramuglia said.
Gramuglia said people need to speak out to the government to try to get some relief from the crushing cost of fuel and high taxes that drive people out of the state. He said no regulation in the world would help save the industry, only a lowering in the cost of operations.
Dairy farm owner Eric Erikson said the cost for his company to deliver milk to New York City is around $250 a load in taxes alone. His company makes 24 trips a day to the city, costing his company around $6,000 a day in taxes alone for travel to one location.
“We need to keep tax money in our communities so we can afford to raise our families here,” Erikson said. “We would like to stay in the state.”
All the truck drivers and owners agreed the state needs to do something now to prevent businesses from going under.
“This is a sad state of affairs, and if we don’t do something now, they’ll be nothing left,” Clayburn said.
The Leader-Herald/ Kerry McAvoy
Truck driver Charlie Clayburn, second from left, speaks to a packed house at the Fultonville Superstop Thursday. Clayburn, who spoke on behalf of more than 40 independent truck drivers, talked about the need to lower to rising cost of diesel fuel. Also pictured, from left, are Assemblyman George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, Brad Vickers of the Chenango County Farm Bureau, Assemblyman Peter Lopez, R-Schoharie, Lee Pratt of the Schoharie County EDC and Todd Erling of the Columbia County EDC.