New York Harbor Carriers Association Issues Ten User Charge Guidelines

Ten guidelines for evaluating Federal waterway user charge proposals have been issued by the New York Towboat & Harbor Carriers Association. In announcing the guidelines, Daniel B. Curll, the Association's president, said: "Numerous proposals are surfacing in Washington to charge the maritime industry for use of Federal channels and the expenses of the Coast Guard. By developing a set of guidelines, we are providing criteria against which we can test each proposal that is made." The guidelines are: • Is the tax or charge simple to administer?

• Do all beneficiaries pay their share of the costs?

• Are those who do not benefit exempted?

• Is safety recognized as a benefit to the entire nation?

• Does each region pay only its own costs?

• Do Federal user charges and subsidies treat all transportation modes equitably?

• Has the legislative branch retained oversight on the activities of agencies like the Coast Guard and Corps of Engineers?

• Is the productivity of Federal agencies that charge for services equal to that of the private sector?

• Do those who pay have a voice in how the funds are spent?

• Will projects progress from conception to completion faster than at present?

H i s t o r i c a l l y , navigation and channel maintenance costs have been funded out of general revenues.

According to Mr. Curll, the Association, which represents the tugboat and barge operators in the New York and New Jersey port area, supports the objectives of the Reagan Administration, but it is concerned about some of the user charge implementation mechanisms that the Administration and others have suggested.

Anthony J. McAllister Jr., the newly elected chairman of the Association, stated: "Governments have had a major role in transportation since ancient times. An efficient transportation system is a public good that benefits all citizens. Many transportation facilities are used by such diverse interests that governments are the logical central point for planning, funding, and operation. In this country, the Federal Government has had a major role in Western rail expansion, the Interstate Highway System, aviation flight control, and waterway navigation aids and channel maintenance.

"The President has made a forceful argument," said Mr. Mc- Allister, "that better economic decisions will be made if waterway costs are paid for directly by those using the facilities rather than subsidized from general taxes paid by users and everyone else. This Association does not object to our shallow-draft portion of the marine industry paying for the specific costs incurred for its benefit. But we would object, and the Reagan goal would not be achieved, if we paid for services we did not want or need." By issuing guidelines, the Association is showing a good faith interest in discussing the user charge concept. Most members are convinced, however, that user charges will be found inappropriate for financing certain government services such as those related to safety. Other costs may be recoverable through user charges if equity among modes, ports, and users is assured.

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