A roadblock set up by state taxation officers in front of a used car lot and auto repair shop on Routes 5 & 20 near the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, has cost a week's loss of business -- about $1,000 -- an Irving businessman said Friday.
"Right now as I am talking to you," James K. Buckreis, owner of Re-New Auto, said, "the tax people have four big rigs, each 60 feet long, lined up in the right hand driving lane in front of my building so that people driving by can't even see that I am here . . . I just can't handle this anymore."
Karl Felsen, a spokesman for the State Department of Taxation and Finance, countered that Buckreis' business can be reached by a side road directly adjacent to the car lot.
"We made absolutely sure there was a way to get in and out of his place," Felsen said. He also questioned "how much this businessman depends on casual traffic traveling on the highway in front of his building."
Monday, the State Department of Taxation and Finance set up the roadblock to check tractor-trailers coming on and off the Silver Creek Thruway exit for fuel tax registration stickers. They were also handing out leaflets reminding drivers that if they buy diesel fuel at the nearby Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, where no state taxes are collected, the truckers are still responsible for paying the excise tax.
The big rigs are waved off into the highway's two outside lanes while all other traffic is routed through the two inside lanes.
Earlier this week, Seneca Indian gasoline dealers said the roadblock was costing them up to 50 percent losses of diesel fuel business. They charged the location had been chosen because the Indians refuse to collect state excise taxes.
The location of the roadblock, according to Felsen, "was chosen because our enforcement people deemed it to be the most efficient and safest."
"We could not do it too near to the Thruway and we certainly could not do it on the reservation, so there was really very little choice," Felsen said.
Felsen also added that the roadblock "has been very successful."
"We have picked up several trucks which did not have fuel tax registrations and we will be collecting a considerable amount of revenue in unpaid fuel taxes," he said.
Felsen would not say how long the roadblock would last.
"We know the truckers are getting word out to all of the other drivers," he said. "Truck traffic in the area has dropped off considerably and right now, we just continue to monitor the situation."