Essex County to look into vehicle registration fee

The Essex County Board of Supervisors will look at a possible fee for vehicles registered in the county.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors will look at a possible fee for vehicles registered in the county. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— It may soon cost more to register an automobile in Essex County.

Members of the Essex County Finance Committee voted to draft a local law that would require residents of the county to pay a Highway Reuse Tax of $5 per year for passenger vehicles and $10 for commercial vehicles.

Finance Committee chairman Tom Scozzafava said the idea had been discussed during budget subcommittee meetings and with Essex County Clerk Joe Provoncha, with estimates earning the county between $200,000 and $300,000 in increased annual revenue.

Scozzafava said that the revenue would be used specifically for infrastructure.

“This additional money will be used solely for highway and bridges,” he said. “The idea is to keep this additional money off the tax levy. This makes more sense to, instead of supporting your infrastructure off of property tax, support it more off the vehicles that use the roads.”

County Attorney Daniel Manning said each of the surrounding counties has enacted a Highway Reuse Tax, which would also allow for exemptions on farm equipment and any vehicles whose use is already qualified as tax exempt by the state.

Scozzafava said that he knew there would be debate any time people see a new tax put in place, but he felt the reuse tax would shift the support for roadwork away from the county tax levy.

“Everyone that goes in and registers a vehicle will give everyone a chance to pay their fair share and not being doing more or less based on property tax,” he said. “This is what we should have been doing a long time ago where you take stuff off the tax rolls that can be done through fees. It may be a new tax, but it is going to help you on the flip side.”

The resolution to draft the local law for the fee passed 7-1, with Newcomb Supervisor George Canon absent and Westport Supervisor Dan Connell casting the lone dissenting vote.

“I think that this is the third time that this has been brought up,” Connell said. “The folks that are in my community have been dead set against this and I will vote no. It is another tax as far as they are concerned.”

Manning said that once the local law goes through the necessary political channels, a public hearing would be held, most likely prior to the Sept. 3 regular board meeting.

“This will most likely be ready to go to public hearing in September,” he said.

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