County boosts motor

QUEENSBURY - In an effort to close a looming budget gap, Warren County supervisors voted Monday to affix a surcharge on all motor vehicle registrations for county residents.

This new Vehicle Use Fee will cost residents registering passenger vehicles an extra $5 per year, and for those registering commercial vehicles - which includes trucks over certain weight limits - an extra $10 per year.

And since registrations are routinely issued for a two-year period, getting new or renewed vehicle registrations will cost $10 to $20 more per registration transaction.

County Clerk Pam Vogel said this week she wasn't in favor of the new fee, but she suggested it to county supervisors at their request to help raise revenues to close a pending 2010 budget gap of more than $3 million.

The new fee, she said, should bring $300,000 to $400,000 annually into the county coffers.

"I don't personally support a fee increase, but I had an obligation to inform the board of supervisors about it," she said, adding that about two-thirds of all counties in the state impose the fee. Most counties, she said, dedicate the revenue to road improvements.

Neighboring municipalities of Essex and Washington counties now charge the Vehicle Use Fee, she said.

She said the new fee would be collected no matter where Warren County residents registered their vehicles, whether it was in an office in another county, or by mail or on the Internet.

Voting against the fee were most of the supervisors from rural towns in the county.

Several of these supervisors said the new fee, as it applies one rate to all vehicles, regardless of age or cost, would penalize those on modest income.

Voting against the increase were Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe, Thurman Supervisor Red Pitkin, Warrensburg Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, Horicon Supervisor Ralph Bentley, and Lake Luzerne Supervisor Gene Merlino.

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