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Have a car? Get ready to pay $32 to state

November 30, 2018

Arizona residents will have to dig a little deeper to pay for vehicle registrations beginning Dec. 1.

Most motorists will pay $32 per vehicle, per year. Street-legal golf carts and primarily off-highway vehicles will pay $5, according to a news release from the Arizona Department of Transportation. The collected fees will be used for maintenance and construction of Arizona’s highway infrastructure.

While paying an extra $32 annually isn’t the best news in the world, Lake Havasu City resident Morrie Hively shrugged it off for what he views as a fair exchange.

“I’d pay $32 a year to drive on nicer roads. I’d have no problem with that,” Hively said.

District 5 State Sen. Sonny Borelli explained his support for the legislation, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law April 25.

He said the new public safety fee will fund Highway Patrol operations. In years past, road construction money collected through HURF (Highway User Revenue Fund) was consistently raided to pay for the Department of Public Safety. As a result, there was little to no money remaining to improve Arizona’s roads.

“HURF funds were constantly being swept to fund DPS, so this (new fee being collected) will hopefully prevent that from happening. The new fee is also sort of an equalizer because that $32 will also be charged for electric cars and alternative fuel vehicles. Right now, because they don’t use gasoline, they don’t pay a (fuel) tax at all,” Borelli said.

With an estimated 5 million vehicles on the road in Arizona, the $32 fee should generate approximately $160 million in new money.

“I own two motorcycles and a truck, so I’ll pay my share,” Borelli said.

He added that as the legislation was being shaped, alternatives had been considered.

“We decided to go with a flat fee, rather than tie it to the value of the car. And there was a big push to index the gasoline tax. But we didn’t want to go that way,” he said. Legislators don’t like to vote for gas tax increases; indexing links the hikes to inflation and they go up automatically.

The League of Cities and Towns also supported the new legislation. The league is comprised of Arizona municipal officials. As it stands, a portion of Arizona’s vehicle registration fees are funneled to counties and cities.

The legislation – HB 2166 – was sponsored by Dist. 1 Rep. Noel Campbell. The Prescott legislator is also chair of the transportation committee for the Arizona House of Representatives.

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