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Commissioners approve vehicle registration fee increase in 2-1 vote

nmark@centredaily.com

The Centre County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved an ordinance that raises the vehicle registration fee by $5.

The board voted 2-1 to enact the fee. Board chairman Michael Pipe and Mark Higgins voted in favor of the increase and Steve Dershem voted against the increase.

As part of the ACT 89 transportation bill signed by former Gov. Tom Corbett in 2013, boards of commissioners in the state can vote to raise the registration fee by $5 on non-exempt vehicles.

In January, the board began the process by discussing the increase at its weekly meeting. In March, the board mailed surveys to the 35 county municipalities asking them for feedback. 19 of the 35 responded and 12 are in favor: Boggs, College, Gregg, Patton, Potter and Spring townships; and Centre Hall, Milesburg, Millheim, Snow Shoe, State College and Unionville boroughs.

The 12 municipalities in favor are home to about 90,000 residents or 70 percent of the county’s population, according to U.S. census data.

After the board received the survey results, it scheduled three town hall meetings to offer county residents an opportunity to voice their concerns and ask questions about the increase. In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s vote, the board, as required by county code, drafted and posted online the fee increase ordinance.

The $5 increase will be added by PennDot to non-exempt registration renewals in no less than 90 days, as the law requires.

Non-exempt vehicles include passenger automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, buses, limousines, motor-homes, trailers and semi-trailers.

Vehicles that are exempt from the increase include commonwealth, municipal government, Penn State, mass-transit and emergency vehicles. Disabled veterans, prisoners of war and medal of honor recipients will also be exempt form the increase.

Imposing the fee on the just more than 117,000 non-exempt vehicles in the county, will generate almost $600,000 per year in revenue that will be used on infrastructure projects within the county, according to Pipe.

“I think this was a good process that we went through,” Pipe said “But this won’t be the end of the conversation because as we receive the funds we will have to make a determination on where to allocate the money.”

The county will receive the money from the state in June and December of each year. The ordinance approved by the board directs county staff to create a web page that updates county residents on the amount of money collected, how the money is allocated, spent and leveraged for state money.

The ordinance has a sunset clause built in, which will require the 2022 board of commissioners to vote on continuing the fee implementation.

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi

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