COURT UPHOLDS MISSISSIPPI DOCKING FEE

COURT UPHOLDS MISSISSIPPI DOCKING FEE

The Supreme Court refused to abolish docking fees charged by Plaquemines Parish, La., to maintain its fire patrol and rescue boats on the lower Mississippi River.

The court, without comment, rejected an appeal of the fees by the New Orleans Steamship Association, a non-profit group of steamship owners that transit the Mississippi through Plaquemines Parish, which covers 102 miles of the lower river.According to court papers, 9,200 oceangoing ships a year navigate through Plaquemines and about 3,900 stop at one of the privately maintained docks there.

Plaquemines in the past has had trouble collecting fees from the shipowners whose vessels use these private facilities. The Federal Maritime

Commission threw out a fee based on cargo volume that was for general governmental services in the parish. A second fee, explicitly to support fire and rescue services, also was rejected by the FMC. The third attempt is the fee disputed in this case. The Supreme Court order effectively holds that the fee is not unconstitutional.