Legislators: Vehicle fee reduction unlikely

Nov 22, 2010

The following article was published in the Tampa Tribune on November 22, 2010:

Legislators:  Vehicle fee reduction unlikely



By Gary Pinnell

The 2009 Florida Legislature, faced with a $6 billion deficit, increased 106 DMV fees for all motor vehicles. Predictably, Floridians were furious.

The late Tax Collector Charles Bryan encouraged Highlands County citizens to pay two years of fees at the old rate. Thousands of taxpayers responded, but Bryan estimated the state would collect an additional $5.5 million from Highlands County alone.

Eric Zwayer, who replaced Bryan as tax collector, said some fees have gone up 100 percent or more: “People are surprised and shocked at how much it costs to put a vehicle on the road. Taxpayers are having a hard time paying.”

Zwayer thinks the Legislature should reduce some fees, but two local state representatives don’t see that happening.

“Those fees had not been raised in 10, 15 or 20 years,” said Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring.

Although she realized citizens felt sticker shock after paying the new fees, she didn’t advocate a rollback. She was just re-elected to a fourth term. Next year, she will chair the House budget committee.

“It would be ideal to reduce them some and then put them on a Consumer Price Index,” said Grimsley. That way, fees could rise or fall with inflation.

However, Grimsley said, the state of Florida is looking at a $2.5 billion shortfall next year, and no bills have been filed yet to lower the fees.

The legislative majority might want to decrease DMV fees, she said. “The reality is whether we’ll be able or to not. We’re constitutionally mandated to have a balanced budget.”

Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, would have to study such a bill before he could vote for it.

“If it offsets costs somewhere else, and it’s a net zero, then I’d be for it,” said Albritton, who was elected in November.

Find this article at:  http://www2.highlandstoday.com/content/2010/nov/22/LANEWSO1-legislators-vehicle-fee-reduction-unlikel/news/