OOIDA calls out UCR for ‘stockpiling excess funds’
June 29, 2022
The Unified Carrier Registration Plan has been “stockpiling excess funds into financial reserves” and is in violation of its statutes, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association contends.
In a 38-page document, OOIDA spoke out against UCR’s proposed fee structure for 2023, saying it was contrary to UCR statute and the Administrative Procedures Act.
“OOIDA’s members already face too many fees from all levels of government to conduct the essential business they operate,” the Association wrote in comments signed by OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “It adds insult to injury when a fee is imposed upon them that is higher than permitted under law.”
The UCR is an annual permit that most motor carriers must pay if they have an active U.S. DOT number regardless whether they are using that DOT number or not and it is marked interstate.
In January, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would reduce UCR fees from 2022 by about 27%.
In formal comments filed on Feb. 23, OOIDA said the proposed fee violates the UCR statute because it does not apply the full $42 million in excess fee revenue the board has accumulated over the past several years. OOIDA also requested that FMCSA reopen the comment period for no less than 60 days.
Responding to OOIDA’s request, FMCSA announced earlier this month that it was reopening the comment period for 14 days. That comment period closed on Tuesday, June 28.
“OOIDA appreciates FMCSA’s action to reopen the comment period on this rulemaking, and we urge the agency to exercise its oversight authority to approve lower fees that are no higher than required by law,” the Association wrote.
The comments from OOIDA take aim at the recent response from Avelino Gutierrez, the UCR Plan’s executive director.
“Mr. Gutierrez’s responses to FMCSA confirm the factual basis for the issues raised by OOIDA in its first comments filed in February,” OOIDA wrote. “The UCR Plan has been stockpiling excess funds into financial reserves rather than disclosing to the secretary the full amount of the excess funds that the secretary is required to use to lower the next year’s fees.
“The UCR Plan has also not previously proposed, and does not propose now, to apply excess funds collected in one year to lower fees in the next fee year. Furthermore, Mr. Gutierrez explains that the scheduling policies they have established to administer the UCR Plan do not allow them to do so. But he does not explain how either of these actions by the UCR Plan could possibly be lawful under the UCR statute. The secretary must now use his authority to approve fees only if they comply with the UCR statute.”
FMCSA said it limited the reopening of the notice to 14 days so that it can quickly finalize a rule adjusting UCR Plan and Agreement fees prior to the opening of the registration period on Oct. 1 for the next registration year beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. LL