Reduced Unified Carrier Registration fees approved

WASHINGTON – After a four-month delay, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has approved a rule reducing annual Unified Carrier Registration fees for commercial motor carriers.

The reductions, spelled out in a Federal Register notice, total 9.1 percent in 2018. They will rise slightly in 2019 but would still be 4.55 percent below current levels.

In dollars, the reductions will range from $7 to $6,749 below the current fees per operator next year and from $3 to $3,375 in 2019, based on the number of vehicles in an operator’s fleet.

The more vehicles a company operates, the higher the reduction will be.

Here are the new fees compared with the current amounts:

  • Fees for two or fewer motorcoaches, currently $76 a year, will be $69 in 2018 and $73 in 2019.
  • Fees for three to five vehicles, currently $227, will be $206 in 2018 and $217 in 2019.
  • Fees for six to 20 vehicles, currently $452, will be $410 in 2018 and $431 in 2019.
  • Fees for 21 to 100 vehicles, currently $1,576, will be $1,431 in 2018 and $1,503 in 2019.
  • Fees for 101 to 1,000 vehicles, currently $7,511, will be $6,820 in 2018 and $7,165 in 2019.
  • Fees for 1,001 or more vehicles, currently $73,346, will be $66,597 in 2018 and $69,971 in 2019.

UCR is a federally mandated, state-administered program for registering and collecting fees from operators of commercial vehicles engaged in interstate travel. It requires motor carriers, motor private carriers, freight forwarders, leasing companies and brokers based in the United States, Canada and Mexico to pay fees through their base states on behalf of all participating states.

Federal regulations require FMCSA to reduce the fees for all motor carriers if the total fees in the previous year exceed the amount necessary to satisfy the revenue entitlements of the participating states and the UCR plan’s administrative costs.

The Unified Carrier Registration Plan board recommended the reduction to the Department of Transportation in March 2017 after total revenues collected in 2016 exceeded the entitlements of $107.78 million distributed to the 41 participating states, plus $5 million established for administrative costs to operate the plan.

Registration is supposed to begin each year on October 1, but a Federal Register notice issued by FMCSA in September announced that the annual registration period had been delayed until November 1.

A lawsuit was filed in late September claiming the UCR board violated federal open meetings acts by failing to notify the public of a September 14 meeting in which it determined the 2018 fee structure and the delayed registration start period.

A court agreed with the plaintiffs in the case and required the board to post the minutes from its September meeting on its website. However, the court said it lacked the authority to rescind the decisions made by the board at the meeting.

Separately, the state of Texas sought to block the changes due to a squabble with the board over revenue sharing. The Texas DMV claims the UCR has shorted it more than $33 million in owed revenue since 2007 — about $3 million a year.

The U.S. Department of Transportation was able to proceed with the rule, regardless of Texas’ claims. The state will have to pursue another avenue to rectify the issue, if there is one.

State enforcement of the UCR registration requirements commonly begins January 1. Since the 2018 registration has had to be delayed several months, however, the UCR board is requesting that states hold off on enforcement of the requirement until 90 days after the fees go into effect; that is, not until April 5, 2018.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance agreed to abide by the enforcement delay.

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