Tire recyclers say Oklahoma must pay more

Monday, July 19th 2004, 5:52 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Lack of funding for Oklahoma's tire recycling program is making the practice less profitable, tire recyclers said.

Max Daughtrey, co-owner and vice president of operation for Four D Corp., said the state funds paid to tire recyclers is not enough to keep companies in business.

"I have only made money once out of 10 years," said Daughtrey, a member of the new Waste Tire Indemnity Fund Task Force. "It is not the money-making proposition it was supposed to be."

Since 1990, a $1 fee has been attached to every new tire bought in Oklahoma. That's not enough, Daughtrey says. For the fund to break even, he said, the fee needs to be at least $1.49.

According to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, the fund balance has been dropping steadily the past two years. As of June 30, the fund totaled only $699, the commission's records showed.

The Legislature also created problems when it raided the fund of $4.6 million during fiscal years 1999 and 2000.

In fiscal year 1999, the Legislature took $4.3 million of the fund's $4.7 million for other purposes. In fiscal year 2000, the fund had $1.6 million when the Legislature took another $300,000.

Daughtrey said something must change for tire recycling in Oklahoma to continue.

Today, he said, haulers and recyclers are being paid 80 percent to 95 percent of what they are owed.

"They are either going to have to rewrite the law, or let it go to free market," he said. "They need to do something, or we all are going to go out of business."

The Legislature has reduced the percentage of revenues earmarked for the Tax Commission and Environmental Quality Department. That leaves more money for the haulers and recyclers.

A recent report from the state auditor and inspector's office also found problems with the way the fund is handled.

It says paperwork submitted by tire recyclers can be confusing.

"It is not possible ... to determine how many tires were sold or first registered in Oklahoma ... nor is it possible to determine whether the correct amount of waste tire fees was collected and remitted," the audit said.