According to Bill Stoltze, who’s currently running for a state Senate seat, the state Department of Motor Vehicles takes in millions of dollars more a year than it spends on motor vehicle services.
Stoltze sponsored legislation during the past legislative session that would give municipalities the option to allow permanent vehicle registration for residents. That bill passed, and goes into effect January 1of next year. Stoltze says the bill takes money from the DMV and puts it back into people’s pockets.
Mat Su Borough Assemblyman Jim Colver wants the Borough to be the first government entity to try out lifetime registration.
“It’s a fairness issue, and it makes a lot of sense. The registration was raised in 2002, the state registration, and the state of Alaska is collecting excess revenue above and beyond of what it costs to run the division of motor vehicles, by the tune of about m aybe fifty million dollars.”
Colver’s proposed ordinance would create the authority for the Borough to implement the new state law.
This is how it would work. The owner of an automobile at least 8 years old, or of a non- commercial trailer, can elect to pay a 25 dollar tax on top of the standard state two year registration fee at the time of registration renewal. In addition to the state fees, the Borough collects a 70 dollar road tax on vehicles 8 years or older. So paying the 25 dollar permanent registration tax in addition to the 270 dollars in state and Borough fees for one car would free the owner from having to renew registration again for the lifetime of the vehicle. But permanent registration is not transferable if the vehicle is sold.
Mat Su Assemblyman Matthew Beck says the proposal could help people who own rarely used autos, such as classic cars.
“I think of the people with plow trucks around here and they take it on the public roads once every other week, or however often it is snowing to go get gas, and that’s the only time it goes on the public road. A lot of people have trailers for hauling stuff here and there. They haul their trash over to the landfill. They use that once a month.”
There is a downside, in that the state, and the Borough, would lose some revenue in motor vehicle fees, Colver says.
“You renew your licenses bi-annually every two years. So really the reduction won’t start taking place until about 2017. It’s very gradual.”
The 70 dollars the Borough collects for each car 8 years or older is distributed to the various road service areas in the Borough. If the ordinance passes, depending on the number of vehicle owners who opt in favor of permanent registration, those road service areas could see fewer dollars – potentially, more than two million dollars. More than 83 thousand motor vehicles in the Mat Su are eight years old or older, compared with a population of 96 thousand people.
Colver plans to introduce his ordinance at the upcoming Borough Assembly meeting on August 5. I’m Ellen Lockyer