SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

March 5, 2014

RMV fee hikes in the works

EVERETT — Tasked with developing a portion of its own revenue, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is closing in on plans to raise Registry of Motor Vehicle fees, in addition to the previously announced 5 percent increase in MBTA fares.

Registrar of Motor Vehicles Celia Blue told the State House News Service that the RMV has not yet determined the size of the fee increase and will make a presentation to the state Transportation Board on March 19.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials in late January described Registry fees as “the only viable revenue source” to close a projected $55 million budget gap for fiscal 2015. The Registry collected $550 million in revenue in 2013, including $134 million in motor vehicle inspection fees. Registration fees, title certificates and driver’s license fees are other top revenue generators at the RMV.

At a budget hearing yesterday, Transportation Secretary Richard Davey laid out efficiencies through telecommunications and bridge-building technology and plans to team up with New England states for the purchase of salt and tires and move 4,000 employees off the debt-funded capital plan.

The transportation chief who helped the unsuccessful push for Gov. Deval Patrick’s larger tax package last year also discussed the fiscal constraints the department faces and the potential monetary blow if a ballot referendum passes, which would repeal the law that indexes future gas tax increases to inflation.

“Toll revenue cannot be used to meet our obligation to pay for transportation staff on the operating budget. Therefore, the one revenue source we can and we will turn to is registry fees,” Davey said.

He also said, “The repeal of the gas tax indexing will result in a loss of an estimated $2 billion in capacity for projects over the next decade. This will be a significant cut to an already underfunded long-term transportation program.”

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