Vehicle registration costs rise

Included in a flurry of tax increases approved by lawmakers during the 2009 legislative session was a boost that resulted in higher fees when motorists register their vehicles. That hike might have briefly escaped drivers’ memories; but Sept. 1, the date it went into effect, has arrived. Now motorists’ experience at the Department of Motor Vehicles might be more agonizing than anticipated.

The hike was a shock for A.G., who said: I drive a 1992 car. This year, my registration fee nearly doubled, from $58 to $109. What gives?

Actually, the basic registration fee for most vehicles remains the same, $33, according to DMV spokesman Kevin Malone. The most bruising increase comes from the hike in the government services tax, which is part of the overall fee to register vehicles.

Vehicle owners who will notice the tax boost most are drivers like A.G., who have cars 9 years old or older. The reason is those vehicles are now taxed based on 15 percent of the vehicle’s original value. Prior to the increase, the tax was based on 5 percent of the original value.

One-year-old vehicles will be taxed based on 95 percent of their original value, rather than 85 percent. The value depreciates 10 percent each year until they reach the nine-year point, Malone said.

The minimum government sales tax also was raised to $16, from $6.

If there is any good news, it’s this: The tax revenue is distributed to the county and school district in which the motorist lives. Most of the new revenue generated from the tax increase — about $50 million — will be dumped in the state’s general fund coffers.

Ann asks: Why does the DMV send registration notifications on postcards? Isn’t this another invitation for identity theft?

DMV’s Tom Jacobs is confident that nothing on that card will give anybody enough information to steal your identity. As Jacobs pointed out, it lists your address, which is on your house; your license plate number, which is on your vehicle and the last four digits of your vehicle identification number, which is useless.

“There really isn’t anything on there that isn’t readily available anyway,” Jacobs said.

The DMV’s budget was cut by nearly $400,000, and that is about how much the agency saves by sending out postcards rather than envelopes.

Another reader questions the design of the new Rancho Drive offramp from Highway 95 south: Why doesn’t the 95 south exit onto Rancho in a protected lane? The right lane was backed up to nearly Valley View Boulevard this morning.

A free right-turn lane from the southbound offramp onto Rancho was in place before the freeway was widened and the interchange improved. According to the Transportation Department, that was possible because there was no southbound traffic to watch out for once you wanted to turn right from the off ramp and go south on Rancho. But now, an added southbound lane coming from north Rancho requires off ramp travelers to yield to oncoming traffic, causing the backups.

This from multiple readers: When will the rock blasting stop along Interstate 15 across the California border?

I pointed this out the last couple weeks in the Road Work Ahead portion of the column, but that’s in smaller print and we all know how we tend to ignore the small print. The rock-blasting along Interstate 15 between Nipton and Bailey roads is complete, so commuters should not encounter any closures related to that widening project.

One last revisit to the handicap parking issue. A fact was left out regarding the rules regarding metered parking in the city of Las Vegas. Vehicles with handicap placards may park in street-side metered spaces up to four hours without feeding the meter.

If you have a question, tip or tirade, call Adrienne Packer at (702) 387-2904, or send an e-mail to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com. Include your phone number.

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