Waste Watch: A tired old tax may no longer be necessary

Why is New York State continuing to charge millions of New Yorkers a fee for waste tire management, even though the money served its purpose and may no longer be necessary?

In 2003, the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Taxation imposed a Waste Tire Management Fee to pay for the cleanup of dozens of potentially hazardous tire dumps. The fee amounts to $2.50 added to the purchase of every new tire sold in New York State.

The large tire dumps have been cleaned up, including the Fortino property in West Monroe in Oswego County which contained 10 million tires. The Waste Tire Fee was supposed to expire at the end of 2010 but has been extended twice. It's now slated to end on December 30, 2016.

According to figures provided to CNY Central by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the state collects between $24 million to $26 million per year for the Waste Tire Management and Recycling Fund. However, only a fraction of the money goes to the actual abatement of waste tires with the bulk of the money going to pay for salaries of state employees.

The DEC says the fund is divided into three categories with:

- $6 million going into the state's general fund

- $14 million for staffing in the DEC's Hazardous Waste division

- $6 million for waste tire abatement projects.

In an email to CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, DEC Spokesperson Lisa King explained, "One of the original purposes of the fund was to abate all the non-compliant stockpiles in the state, not just the largest sites. While most of the larger sites have been cleaned up, more sites remain. We are actively working on a site in Madison County and have recently completed sites in Seneca and Montgomery counties."

Angelo Costantini who owns Hirams Tire and Service Center near Liverpool says he sells around 8 thousand tires during the course of a year which means he collects about $18,000 in waste tire fees for the State Taxation Department. Costantini says the $2.50 per tire "fee was a good idea at first...but seems no longer necessary."

Costantini says he still must pay a licensed hauler to take away used tires from his shop for proper disposal.

The Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency also collected 5,318 used tires at its facilities on 7th North Street and Rock Cut Road. OCRRA's Kristen Lawton says the agency charges $4.00 per tire with a 9 tire limit. Lawton says the tires are shipped to the Seneca Meadows landfill where they are ground up and used for either road construction or as a liner at the landfill.

Lawton says OCCRA has never received any money from the Waste Tire Management Fund.