fining overweight haulers in ypsilanti

A month or so ago, we had a conversation here at MM.com about Ypsilanti’s revenue crisis and opportunities that might exist to bring additional dollars into our coffers. Our friend, Cameron Getto, suggested that we look into fining overweight trucks that are passing through the City, doing considerable damage to our roadways in the process. According to him, other municipalities have been pursuing such programs with great success. Our Mayor read the idea on the site and asked the City Manger, Ed Koryzno, to look into it. Following is his initial report to City Council, which was sent out earlier this evening.

Motor Vehicle Weight Enforcement Program: Council asked staff to respond to the suggestion that the City could generate substantial financial resources by implementing a Motor Vehicle Weight Enforcement program. Chief Harshberger has prepared the following information about what departments have such enforcement and what revenues are generated.

The YPD is continuing its analysis of implementing a weigh measurement enforcement program for commercial vehicles. To date, the Police Department has been able to obtain considerable information from VanBuren Township PD, which currently utilizes four officers in a traffic services unit. Two of the four officers conduct commercial vehicle weight enforcement.

When a vehicle is cited for being overweight, the citation is sent to court and a plea is usually made. The plea is to reduce 25% of the fine; so if the ticket is $2000, $550 is reduced, and then 70% of the $1450 is given directly to the Police Department and 30% is given to the local library.

Van Buren Township Police Department advised that the 70/30 split is standard for Wayne County, and their district court. There is also a $140 court fee added to the overall cost of the citation, which goes directly to the state. Other than that, all citations have similar revenue.

In 2006, the Van Buren Twp Police Department had revenue of $265,000 from 275 citations issued for overweight trucks. Also, one must keep in mind that Van Buren Twp. has two or three rubbish landfills and they advised that the majority of weight enforcement violations are committed by garbage trucks and haulers.

With regard to Washtenaw County Courts, we have learned that there are apparently several levels of classifications for courts. The initial information obtained from our county court system indicates that we would receive approximately one-third (33%) of the total fine for weight enforcement tickets issued. If that is the case, the Ypsilanti Police Department would realize a much smaller amount of revenue than that of Van Buren Twp.

Using the $265,000 that Van Buren Twp received for 2006, YPD would only have received less than half that amount. So, YPD would have obtained an estimated $132,500 compared to the amount Van Buren Twp totaled.

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16 Comments

  1. Posted August 31, 2007 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Aren’t we the fattest city in Washtenaw county? How about fining the overweight people in Ypsilanti? Any person spotted anywhere on city property who’s deemed questionably obese shall be stopped, stripped and weighed immediatly. We’ll be rich! Hahahaha! It’s almost too easy…

  2. Posted August 31, 2007 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    That’s a great way to scare off new industry! Maybe R+L will close their (large) terminal off Ecorse.

    Portable scales used by local officers (who are not usually as knowledgeable about big trucks) tend to result in contestable / nuisance citations.

    Out-of-town and out-of-state trucks will almost never be overweight. Such local rules will mostly affect local trucks and trucking companies. These revenue generators will relocate to less hostile municipalities. Van Buren has slightly-unportable landfills.

    We are lucky (?) enough to have State Police post already within a mile of the city limits. They might not like us busting in on their money-scheming territory.

  3. Posted August 31, 2007 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    That’s pretty much the same info I turned up. Does the report explain why aren’t we doing it?

    Since we already paid to have at least one officer trained to do this it would appear that $132,500 in revenue is $132,500 that we don’t currently have and could probably use, no?

  4. Ol' E Cross
    Posted August 31, 2007 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Trusty. No. Unfortunately, the report just took the amount Van Buren generated and applied it to Ypsi. The unanswered question, what is the potential for income in Ypsi? We are a fraction of the size (sq. miles) as Van Buren and I think I can safely say have a fraction of the truck traffic, esp. garbage haulers. (Ever driven down Ecorse in Van Buren? It’s a never-ending parade of trash trucks.)

  5. brian r
    Posted August 31, 2007 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    There is revenue potential for the City. Enforcing weight limits is something we used to do. The former motor carrier officer told me we made his salary back in fines in less than four months.

    We have major truck routes; Ecorse, Prospect Rd, Michigan Ave, and I-94. I’m sure you could get truck data from the SEMCOG website.

    One of the City’s department heads said in a public meeting that it’s likely every Waste Management truck operating in the City is overweight. The irony here is we said Yes On Roads! in order to improve our crumbling infrastructure, but we fail to maintain them or enforce overweight vehicles that further shorten their useful lives. This is hardly a sustainable idea because it’s likely trucks will just drop more axles, but in the end, protecting our roads is something we should be concerned about.

  6. Posted September 1, 2007 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Ol’ E Cross: Your partially right, but the volume stats show that Ypsi roads get 2/3 to 3/4 the volume as Taylor (I’m estimating based on a number of assumptions – but I can’t be that far off). Also, there’s no basis for assuming that residential trash trucks are likely to be overweight. My experience back in Taylor was that we hardly ever had a trash truck, but instead the big fines went against the eighteen or more wheeled trucks traveling to and from the airport or the Rouge Plant or other industrial facility. Everything west of here on its way to the freight carriers at the airport comes over I-94 through Ypsi, so I don’t think there is a principled argument that volume of potential overweights is necessarily substantially larger in Van Buren or in Taylor than in Ypsi.

    As I’ve suggested in the past, why not simply give it a try? We have someone we paid to learn how to do this. How could giving it a try be a bad thing?

  7. Posted September 1, 2007 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    “How could giving it a try be a bad thing?”

    Because it could easily be circumvented, once word gets out that the city is hostile to trucking. And the same word could chill development of industry, long after portable (non-landfill) companies learn to drop a few more wheels to pavement through town and relocate to Canton.

  8. Mark H.
    Posted September 2, 2007 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    we want to attract business here, but isn’t it lawful businesses we want? Call me radical, but I think that businesses that depend on trucks carrying unlawfully heavy loads that might relocate to Ypsi if we don’t enforce those laws are both A) small in number and B) not desired in the first place. Ypsi should pursue this revenue source and set aside all worries that enforcing laws will make us seem anti-business!

  9. Posted September 2, 2007 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    It’s not necessarily this specific rule, but the willingness of a city to look at business as a “revenue spigot” that will deter other industries from considering the area. They have a long list of other places to choose from, and we’re not at the top.

    I have seen this specific rule from both affected sides, in a neighboring municipality, and neither the business nor the municipality looks very “clean” in its final intent: Enforcement is done in the name of revenue, and evasion is done in the name of profit. Neither is done in the name of the roads (which are either over or under engineered for Michigan’s unbelievably variable axle weight rules).

    BTW, the rules are enforced in our area. We are lucky enough to have a State Police Post within a mile of the City. Those men and women know what they are doing.

    As for obeying laws: I say we set up speed traps and fine everyone going 1 mph over the limit. Think of all the money we would make!… off ourselves,… breaking our own laws,….wait…

  10. Posted September 2, 2007 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I’m with Leighton on the speed enforcement. What with the concern lately for cycling and safety, it seems pretty significant to me that the median speed on Huron/Hamilton/W. Cross tends to be about 10 over whenever I pace it. An officer camping at the intersection of W. Cross and Washington could probably write tickets one after another to people flooring it through the freeflow left from Huron Street.

    And *all* our officers can write speeding tickets, afaik…

  11. egpenet
    Posted September 2, 2007 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Might as well add here that I wrote Chief Matt about lowering all of the speeed limits in the City by 5mph and enforcing the new limits to: 1) reduce thee speeeeeders, 2) make biking more safe in the streeets, 3) to give passers-thru a better look at what’s here, 4) to make it generally quieter, 5) to make it slightly easier to cross streets on foot.

    The 1/4 speedway (Michigan to Cross) in front of my house on N. Huron is too tempting to be used as a dragstrip by motorbikes and hot-rodders.

  12. Ol' E Cross
    Posted September 3, 2007 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    As I read it, what started some time ago as “millions statewide” is now 2/3 to 3/4 of $132,500, at best.

    Trusty’s numbers do not include the cost in police-man hours (including vehicle, fuel, etc.) it takes to issue 275 (not pre-stated 52) tickets. And, the majority of those 275 Van Buren tickets were reported to be folks on the way to the dump.

    BrianR’s antectdote of the fellow who used to earn his salary in four months do not answer the questions:

    -Ypsi, “used to” have a lot more heavy industry than it does now. Does the potential income remain the same as when he worked?

    -What did he mean by “salary.” Was it what appeared on his paycheck or what it actually cost the city to employ him including salary, health care, supervison, vehicle and fuel, pension, etc.?

    -If he wrote a $6,000 dollar ticket, did he count that amount as the amount that paid his check or the fraction that the city actually received?

    Misc.

    -On our millage paying for city streets. Mich Ave, for one, is a state road. It’s not like obese trucks are burning up and down the vast majority of residential streets like Maple and Washington. What’s the real impact? Are we anticipating collecting 275 tickets on a couple miles of city road?

    -Does anyone know if overweight trucks are even a persistent problem in Ypsi? The majority of the trucks I see in town are light, food delivery folk. (Other than those green ones. Anyone know what they carry?)

    -How much of I-94 actually zigs into city jurisdiction? A mile, tops? Is the suggestion really that we weight-trap a snippet of 94 to snag folks for the sixty-seconds they breeze through our limits on an interstate? Is this even feasible?

    This, as I recall, was the only concrete suggestion offered to increase city revenue and nobody seems to have an actual data on either what the potential revenue would be or how much it would actually cost to collect it.

  13. Rodneyn
    Posted September 3, 2007 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    The City’s myopic focus on new revenues is convenient; it keeps the discussion from going where almost no councilmember wants to go – spending.

  14. Posted September 3, 2007 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    Those green and white trucks are probably R+Ls pulling double trailers. As expediters, I assume they haul “FAK” (Freight, All Kinds), but pup trailers like theirs tend not to be overweight and never go into neighborhoods.

    Our stretch of 94 might also be prime fishing grounds for the State Police, based just south of the Huron /downtown exit. And, if TV has taught us anything, law enforcement agencies hate it when other agencies edge their turf.

  15. mark
    Posted September 3, 2007 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    I have absolutely nothing to add to this discussion.

    It happens on occasion.

  16. Posted September 6, 2007 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Leighton: Overweight trucks are illegal. If they want to drive on our streets, they can pay the fines just like they do in other communities. If enforcing existing law is “hostile” to business, then perhaps the culture of business needs some work.

    OEC: Millions are collected statewide. I have no idea what the basis for your skepticism of this FACT is. We ought to be collecting our piece of that revenue pie, and it would seem there’s no good excuse not to. The mere position that the results for us are unknown even though the results for communities near us are known is the lamest argument against giving this a try I’ve heard yet.

    If we try, will the revenue be over $100K? Less than that? I don’t know. Neither do you. And, most importantly, nor does the City.

    If the City wants to say there’s no choice to solve our budget woes except an income tax, and then turn around and refuse to try things that may solve our budget woes, that we’ve already trained personnel to do, but aren’t doing and can’t really explain why we aren’t doing it, so be it. I doubt that’s a winning strategy, however, for approval of the tax come November. City officials need to do their part before they come asking residents to do more, and it seems pretty clear that the diligence on their part just isn’t there.

    There have been plenty of other “concrete suggestions.” The City just isn’t interested in pursuing them until AFTER a tax push fails.

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