Vehicle registration fees racing upward

Dan Meisenzahl
Dan Meisenzahl

By Brooks Baehr - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Drivers on Oahu have already seen the city's motor vehicle weight tax jump 66% in the past three years. Now the state is poised to more than double some of its vehicle registration fees.

On January 1, 2011 the City and County of Honolulu increased its vehicle weight tax from 4-cents per pound to 5-cents per pound. Someone with a vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds will pay the city $40 more this year than last year.

Under new governor Neil Abercrombie the state administration is asking lawmakers to approve fee hikes to state registration fees.

"It's the only way we can maintain our roads and maintain this highway fund. We have more than 2,400 miles of highways, freeways, and other state roads across the state. We have to continue to pave them," said Dan Meisenzahl, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation.

Meisenzahl told Hawaii News Now the state has not raised its portion of the registration fee since 1991. The highway fund has been raided in recent years to help balance the budget, and Meisenzahl said the DOT desperately needs money.

"The Department of Transportation, we get no money from the general fund. We get nothing from your tax dollars. It's all fees," he added.

Proposals making their way through the legislature would increase the state's motor vehicle weight tax 1-cent. A driver registering a 5,000 pound vehicle would pay an additional $50 if the proposal becomes law.

The state also charges a flat fee for all vehicles currently set at $25. Under proposed legislation that fee would jump to $45.

As an example, registration for a Nissan Xterra weighing 4,370 pounds would increase from $361 to $425.

"I'd rather put $65 more gas in my car than to put $65 more in a fund that will more than likely get raided down the road," said Makiki resident Janet Marlette.

The fee increase bills indicate additional money raised will only be spent maintaining and improving roads. If that is the case, people told Hawaii News Now they will be more willing to pay.

"The roads are in very bad shape. So, if it is going to be for fixing the highways, yes, I agree and I favor that," said Waikiki Resident Michael Zawawi.

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