New Arizona vehicle registration fee takes effect Jan. 1Austin Westfall Richard RuelasArizona RepublicView Comments
Arizona motorists learned Thursday of a new $32 fee to be tacked on to the registering of their vehicles, one much more than the states accountants had estimated.
The public safety fee would be added into the annual registration fee for 2019, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said. It was set to go into effect immediately for new vehicles, the news release said. It would apply to registration renewals due in January, according to the news release.
The fee had been approved by the Arizona Legislature in April, as the state looked to solidify a budget deal that included a pay raise for teachers. The fee aimed to raise enough to fund DPS highway patrol operations.
In an analysis prepared for lawmakers, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated that the fee would be $18.06 to fully fund the $148.9 million needed to fund the Highway Patrol. That was based on all 8.3 million registered vehicle owners paying it.
This fee, $14 above that, would generate $265.6 million.
In the press release, the Department of Transportation said the fee would also fundmaintenance and construction of state highway infrastructure.
Some motorists received word of the new higher fee in an e-mail sent Thursday.
Transportation Department spokesman Doug Nick said under the law, the Department of Public Safety submits an annual budget projection and ADOT "calculates the fee to support that request.''
Most vehicles will pay $32 annually. Street-legal golf carts and primarily off-highway vehicles will pay $5, officials said.
When Gov. Doug Ducey signed the bill in April implementing the fee, some Republican lawmakers raised about whether it amounted to a tax increase. But Ducey's office said the change wasn't the same because it is a user fee.
Passage of the fee, which then was estimated to generate nearly $150 million a year, was designed to free money from other state sources that normally pay for Department of Public Safety operations and highway maintenance. That was needed to help pay the governor's education funding plan.
Some critics in the Legislature also disliked the change because it does not set the fee amount into law, but allowed it to change annually at the discretion of the Department of Transportations director.
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