PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A financial relief package expected to help the Rhode Island trucking industry weather the onset of truck tolls is proving more expensive than first thought.
Cuts in registration fees for commercial trucks, the most significant part of the $6-million trucking package added to the state budget shortly before passage last June, were estimated last year to cost $4.2 million.
But according to the Department of Revenue's most recent estimates, registration fee collections for big rigs are running $1.1 million below forecasts.
Christopher Maxwell, president of the Rhode Island Trucking Association, said May 10 that the cuts are costing more than expected because the state didn't take into account the International Registration Plan, an agreement that apportions registration revenue based on where commercial vehicles drive.
Rhode Island receives a share of the registration fees from trucks registered in other states that use Rhode Island highways.
Department of Revenue spokesman Paul Grimaldi was not able to provide any information about the reason for the lower fee collections on May 16.
Although the reduced fee revenue means more money for the trucking industry, Maxwell said it is a sign that the state does not understand how the trucking industry works and a bad omen for the success of the truck-toll network.
"The bigger issue is that RhodeWorks," the state's name for the truck-toll plan, "does not work on paper," Maxwell said.
Maxwell has predicted that the truck tolls will fall far short of their $45-million annual revenue target.