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Centre County considering $5 vehicle registration fee

BELLEFONTE - The Centre County Board of Commissioners are considering a $5 fee on all vehicle registrations.

Centre County would be only the 15th county in the state to implement the tax.

The fee is an option given to county governments through Act 89, which was passed by the Pennsylvania Legislature more than three years ago.

If the fee is enacted, it would be collected by PennDOT on all new registrations and registration renewals.

The money raised by the fee would then go directly to Centre County and can only be used for transportation and road infrastructure needs.

"If we're going to levy this fee, we can't take it to our general fund and pay for other expenditures,” said board Chairman Michael Pipe. “The law is written where we must use it for transportation projects."

Pipe said given Centre County’s population of vehicle owners, more than $500,000 in extra revenue could be gained per year.

He said the money would be distributed to local municipalities for various projects.

"I think anybody can think about a pothole or a cracked street, something in their neighborhood, that's just a nuisance that this money could go to fix it," said Pipe.

One local township supervisor says the extra revenue could go a long way in rural communities such as Gregg Township.

“As these projects come up, we don't have that kind of money," said Joel Myers, chairman of the Gregg Township board of supervisors.

Outdated roads and aging bridges in these areas can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We don't have the kind of tax base to make these things happen," said Myers.

Pennsylvanians already pay a gas tax that funds road projects.

So why should residents have to pay more?

Pipe said he believes it’s a small price to pay to guarantee funds are being used locally.

"When you do your vehicle registration renewal or you buy a new car and it's gone up by $5, 100 percent of that money comes back to Centre County. When you go to the gas pump, you're not guaranteed that money is going to come back," said Pipe.

Pipe said the commission plans on holding several public meetings to hear input from the community. They will also talk with local municipalities before they vote on adding the fee.

Pipe said the vote could happen in March.

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