Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 4, 2013

Better roads, higher registration costs

TRAVERSE CITY — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder won’t share the pain of his proposal to raise vehicle registration fees to help fix the roads.

Snyder doesn’t own a car, according to Michigan Secretary of State Records, which might partly explain his recent comments on how the registration fee — and his proposed increase — would affect most Michigan vehicle owners.

Snyder recently met with the Record-Eagle editorial board and was asked his plan to fund road fixes, including the fairness of almost doubling vehicle registration fees, particularly regarding fees on older vehicles.

Snyder said registration fees continue to decline as a vehicle ages, so he contended an owner’s increased tax burden also will fall.

“It actually does have a depreciation factor in it; it does reduce,” Snyder said of the registration fee. “It does reduce in time, so there is a schedule effect that does reflect lower values.”

Registration fees are based on a percentage of the manufacturers’ suggested retail price on a car when it’s initially titled, and averages 5 percent to 6 percent higher than the actual price paid for the car. The annual fee drops slightly for the first three plates after the initial purchase for a total reduction of 25 percent by the fourth license plate tab. It never drops again.

Most Michigan drivers are well aware the registration fee is set in stone for older vehicles.

“We just bought plates for our car; they were over $114 for our 2001,” said John Bristol of Garfield Township, who also owns a 2006 van. “They’ve never gone down.”

Snyder proposes to raise $1.2 billion in road funding through increases in state gas tax and vehicle registration fees. He floated the idea of doubling the fee for the average car owner in 2011, but subsequent proposals now before the legislature call for increases ranging from 60 percent to 80 percent.

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