Summit County drivers fuming over new fees
July 14, 2009
SUMMIT COUNTY – Unless you’re the owner of a vintage horseless carriage, get ready to pay more on your next visit to the motor vehicle office.
A set of new fees aimed at funding highway repairs and improvements took effect July 1, and officials at the local branch of the Division of Motor Vehicles said they’ve been getting an earful from angry vehicle owners since then.
While they didn’t want to be named in the newspaper, the clerks said Tuesday that they don’t set the fees.
“People are irate about the fees, but it’s a state law. We just collect them,” said one of the clerks, describing how some vehicles owners have reacted to the changes angrily and expressing their displeasure at the counter.
But Summit County resident Larry Hollatz, who was picking up new plates for his vehicle Tuesday afternoon, took the new fees in stride.
“We knew they were coming. The state can’t raise taxes, so they raise fees instead,” Hollatz said, referring to strict constitutional limits on tax increases in Colorado. “I’m not happy about it, but what can you do, if you need the money for roads.”
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Horseless carriages are exempt, but nearly every other vehicle is subject to new road and bridge fees that can raise the total cost of registering a vehicle by more than $100 over last year’s rates.
Additionally, the state imposed fees for late registration that took effect June 1. Those fees also apply to trailers and motorcycles, even if they’re not being used. Division of Motor Vehicle officials explained that they are ownership taxes, not user taxes, and they must be paid even for stored vehicles not in use.
Previously, the late registration fee was $10 and could be waived by county clerks. Under the new law, the late fee is mandatory.
The late fees cost about $25 per month, up to a total of $100. Previously, if a vehicle owner had a stored vehicle – a trailer, for example – and the registration expired, they could come in and update the registration for $17. Under the new fee structure, that could go up to as much as $140 with the late fees.
Boat trailer fees also increased from an average of $15 up to about $38. A new $2 rental car fee is also in effect.
According to the Denver Post, Democratic Governor Bill Ritter said the law could be tweaked to reduce the fees for non-motorized vehicles like trailers. Some trailer owners have complained because they are paying more in fees than their trailers are worth, the Post reported.
The new road and bridge fees were passed by the state Legislature during the past session in the face of a massive budget crunch. The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Dan Gibbs, of Silverthorne. They could raise up to $250 million for highway repairs and other transportation projects.
Republican critics said the increase would boost costs for the average family by $86 per year. Businesses would be hit even harder, with additional charges of up to $70 for trucks and other heavy commercial vehicles. The critics also claim the law could authorize new tolls on highways without a vote of the people.
INFO BOX: New Fees
Road safety surcharge and Bridge Enterprise surcharge – registration of any vehicle
$29 motorcycles, motor scooters, motor bikes
$41 for vehicles 2,000 – 5,000 pounds
$51 for vehicles 5,000 to 10,000 pounds
$66 for vehicles 10,000 to 16,000 pounds
$71 for vehicles heavier than 16,000 pounds
The fees are reduced by one half for trucks or truck tractors owned by farmers and used solely for commercial purposes.