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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, April 06, 2017

$5 Vehicle Registration Fee Hike Back on NorCo's Front Burner

(courtesy of John Pritchett)
For the third time since last July, Northampton County Council President John Cusick is trying to ram a $5 vehicle registration fee increase down the throats of what are now unsuspecting taxpayers. It's on the agenda again for tonight's meeting, with no advance notice to the public.

In 2013, the guys and gals from the land of midnight payhikes enacted a massive gas tax increase giving the Keystone State the highest gas taxes in the nation. At that time, legislators also authorized counties to impose a $5 "local use fee" on vehicle registrations, so long as the money is used for transportation. So far, 14 counties have enacted this additional tax.

"This is a user fee," argued Cusick, adding that roads and bridges have been a core government function since the days of the Roman Empire. "The question is how to we pay for this need," he said. "One option is real estate taxes. The other is this user fee."

Cusick also noted that enactment of this measure would mean $1.4 million in additional revenue for bridge repairs. The money could also be awarded to municipalities that need to make road repairs.

When the matter came up for a vote last July, Council voted it down in a five to three vote. Bob Werner was absent that night.

In  December, the idea was resurrected because Executive John Brown had embarked on an aggressive bridge repair plan. But the matter was tabled without discussion.

Though it's gone down in flames twice, Cusick has placed what really can only be called a tax hike on the agenda for tonight's meeting.

The reason is because PennDOT really wants counties to impose this new tax. So much so that it has promised $2 million to each county that imposes this registration hike. What's really going on here is that state legislators want county officials to take the heat, in an election year, for adopting an unpopular tax. This should be taken off the table and voted down so that Cusick is unable to sneak it back on the agenda again.

Updated 10:25 am: I originally reported that 11 counties have adopted this fee, but the number is actually 14.


Anonymous said...

You need two sponsors to bring the ordnance off the table. Cusick can't do that by himself. Also, check the Home Rule Charter.....Doesn't the ordnance have to be advertised again to give the residents the opportunity to attend the meeting to address the issue?

Bernie O'Hare said...

The HRC gives Council the authority to amend or adopt an ordinance "at any time after termination of the public hearing." Section 602. In this matter, the ordinance was tabled without a public hearing. Though the HRC appears to be silent on the question whether anew advertisement is needed, I'd argue that conducting one now defeats the whole purpose of notifying the public. It's sneaky.

Anonymous said...

This sir our "conservative tea party" Republicans in action. First they pass a 10% real estate tax increase and now they want to gouge the public with a $5 registration tax.

These guys are a disgrace and all their so-called rational is just so much bullshit. They run as fiscal conservatives than vote for all the money they can take from the working public.

Of course the button pushing republican voters will reward them with their votes again.


Anonymous said...

They just keep taxing the #*&#(# out of people till they die. They don't care about anyone except themselves.

Anonymous said...

Another backdoor tax by our wonderful county council. These tax and spend fools must be dealt with on election day.

Anonymous said...

This "user fee" only affects those who live here. The thousands of tractor-trailers that parade through the industrial parks in this county are not registered here. They cause more wear and tear than anything else. If they want to be fair and equitable in this, tax all of those warehouses $20 per freight dock door.

E Mest said...

Since Pennsylvania has the highest fuel and gas tax in our country, why do they need and additional $5.00? Aren't they bleeding us enough? When is is going to stop? That money is already going toward roads, bridges, and mass transit.

E Mest said...

J Mest, a licensed self employed truck driver who lives in Northampton County pays 1600.00 each year to obtain a license registration! That is over and above the fuel taxes paid, along with the 550.00 highway use tax per year. It also doesn't included all the other miscellaneous permits needed to deliver your products.

sezary said...

The possibility exists of Pennsylvania raising the vehicle registration fee, among others. We all know the budget situation in Harrisburg is not good. There is a shortfall of revenue which is needed to fund a state government which has been spending, and continues to spend, beyond its’ means. The unfunded pension liability eventually will come to the fore and must be addressed. The republican majority legislature does not desire a “broad based” (income tax) tax increase, nor does the Governor. Other revenue sources are preferred. There will be, if not already has been, a look to increase fees. PennDot will not be immune. The current $36 car registration fee is on the lower end of the 50 states, so an increase in the registration fee, as well as other fees, may not be as hard to “sell”. So, the taxpayer may be hit with a state “fee” hike during the time the $5 additional county “fee” may be in effect.

Most of you have been voted in by your constituents because of your conservative principles, record, or credentials. Those conservative principals include a belief in fiscal conservatism. Government at any level should spend within its means as do the very people who elected you. Northampton County Council is looking for a new revenue stream. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The County should not add a tax on vehicle registration fees. These fees (TAXES) hurt the poorest the hardest. Many of the heaviest users of the bridges or roads in our county are companies or corporations with vehicles not even registered in this county. How can a fiscal conservative raise this tax? Do principles matter? Do you care about the struggling taxpayers within our county? Enough is enough! We the People.

Anonymous said...

"How can a fiscal conservative raise this tax?"

Easy, the same way they passed a 10% real estate tax increase. They are not fiscal conservatives. They are Republicans who now a days have a base that have learned to hate Democrats and love Republicans. They know the Republican sheep will continue to push their buttons on election day.