Does West Buechel, Ky., unloading permit violate state law?

June 11, 2018

Wendy Parker


The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is calling on truckers to fight back and pressure a Kentucky city in retaliation for a permit ordinance.

Following Land Line’s coverage of the controversial “unloading permit” in West Buechel, Ky., OOIDA’s Manager of Government Affairs, Mike Matousek, sent an email to members, informing them of the city ordinance.

As Land Line Magazine recently reported, there’s a local ordinance in West Buechel, Ky., that is creating quite a bit of controversy. Located just outside of Louisville, the city has what is being dubbed as an ‘unloading license’ that requires trucks to have a sticker or be stuck with a $25 code violation. The ordinance has been around since about 1996, but it’s finally getting the negative attention it deserves. Perhaps city officials would appreciate truckers more if their shelves were empty. If you’re ever considering hauling a load to West Buechel, Ky., you should take this ordinance into consideration. And if you’d like to have your voice heard, feel free to call the West Buechel city hall at (502) 459-4400.

Not unexpectedly, response from the trucking community was immediate. OOIDA member Mike Dolan was one of the members who reached out to OOIDA.

“I’ve been ticketed three times there,” Dolan told Land Line. “The ticket is issued by a tow truck driver who is not in law enforcement. I’ve just mailed the ticket to the mayor’s office with a note that I refuse to pay the $25 fine. Nobody has ever contacted me to try to collect. I was always parked on private property at Walmart or Lowes.”

Dolan said he was not delivering within the city limits. Instead, he had dropped a trailer at the nearby General Electric facility. His citations were issued while he was parked bobtail – once at the West Buechel Walmart while he was inside the store shopping, and twice while he was on Lowe’s property, sleeping.

In an effort to be compliant, Dolan called the West Buechel Police Department to speak with “Officer” Nelson, the issuing authority on his citations. He was told there was no law enforcement officer by the name of Nelson, and was referred to the mayor’s office.

Previously, Mayor Rick Richards denied to Land Line having ever “actually read the ordinance,” and claimed that his knowledge of it was from “truckers complaining about it.”

Dolan claims this was not the case when he spoke to Richards eight months ago.

Dolan said he was instructed by the mayor to “just mail those things back into the city,” and the mayor himself would “expunge the record.” Dolan said he believed the mayor had a very good understanding of the ordinance and what language it contained.

As of press time, calls to Richards asking for a response to Dolan’s claims have not been returned to Land Line.

Dolan since has mailed the citations in and not returned to West Buechel to shop or deliver goods since. He has heard nothing regarding the disposition of his “record” and says he has no plans to ever go to West Buechel again.

In 2015, Kentucky lawmakers eliminated a gray area within state law that previously allowed self-rule municipalities to enact fees and taxes regarding interstate commerce.

Chris Johnson, senior legal counsel with the Kentucky League of Cities, told Land Line that amendment 281.830 was made to state law because the law had been questioned and clarified multiple times since 1960.

Essentially, the original law helped control the number of dedicated, business-owned delivery trucks a business could having moving in and out of the city. Its intent was to control truck traffic and strike a sweet spot with the businesses’ needs. However, as more businesses moved away from their own fleets and started contracting shipping and receiving to third-party motor carriers, the law became too burdensome.

So instead of attempting to revamp and clarify the law once again, state lawmakers opted to scrap it. Hence the amendment in 2015.

281.830 Fees and taxes under this chapter are in addition to others – Limitations on fees and taxes imposed by cities and counties.Except as otherwise provided in KRS 138.470, 186.020 and 186.050 and in subsection (2) of this section, the fees and taxes prescribed by this chapter shall be in addition to the fees and taxes prescribed by any other law of this state.
A city or county shall not impose a license fee or tax upon any intrastate taxicab, limousine, disabled persons vehicle, or TNC vehicle operated under a certificate, except that a city may impose an annual license fee as set out in KRS 281.631(6).
A city or county shall not impose or collect any fee or tax of any kind upon any interstate or intrastate commercial private or for
hire motor carrier vehicle for loading or unloading of property, including household goods.

“It says what it means, and it means what it says,” Johnson said. “It is against the law for cities to enact those fees in the commonwealth of Kentucky, and it has been since 2015.”