Joint Transportation Committee Report
By: Pete Obermueller, WCCA Executive Director and Kelli Little, WCCA Deputy Director
The Joint Transportation committee met last week in Douglas and on their agenda was a discussion on vehicle registration fees. The committee wanted to see how Wyoming's fee system compared to those in our surrounding states. The WCCA volunteered to do the research and put together a report for the committee that would show them how each surrounding state's fees were calculated and then show the comparison of the fees for certain sample vehicles. You can view the report here.
Kelli Little, WCCA Deputy Director, put together the report for the committee and presented it. In her testimony, she urged the committee to consider the entire fiscal picture of the states in the region. While Wyoming's counties rely more heavily on vehicle registration fees for revenue, many other states impose higher property taxes, state income taxes (both individual and corporate), as well as higher sales taxes. She also reminded the committee that the county portion of the vehicle registration fees are distributed exactly like property tax, with only 19% of that revenue going to the counties; the rest goes to the schools.
This topic was first brought to the attention of the committee by Senator Jim Anderson, who sponsored SF 74 last legislative session. This bill would have changed the registration fee formula in Wyoming for vehicles with an original MSRP of $75,000 or more. Right now, the county portion of the fee is calculated by the following formula: MSRP x Year of Service Rate x .03. The year of service rate is depreciated down until the 6th year of service, and then it is the same rate from thereafter. This bill would have depreciated the rate further, with reductions in the 11th year and the 16th year of service. This bill died in committee.
Senator Meier: How many vehicles do we have in Wyoming that are past that 6 year mark?
Kelli: In FY 2011, roughly half of the vehicles registered in Wyoming were in or beyond their 10th year of service.
The committee did not take any action on this topic at the meeting, but has asked the WCCA and the Treasurers Association to work together to see if we can come up with a revenue-neutral proposal so that people are paying less on their registration fees on older vehicles.
Following this the committee moved on to a report from WYDOT Director Bill Panos on WyoLink. Director Panos outlined the progress on WyoLink in much the same manner as he has been in County Commission meetings all across the state. I won't repeat it here.
I testified, along with Commissioner Willox, that by and large we are in a much better place regarding WyoLink than a year ago, but more work remains. I made the case that 911 operations, dispatch, and interoperable communications are a pressure point in county budgets and that the "faux bills" we have been receiving are actually being paid by money that was otherwise earmarked for local government. That amount will run out in FY18, and so we will seek from them a reasonable fee increase to help ease that pressure and cover any potential WyoLink user fees. However, I did not suggest any specific fee at this meeting, opting to work on potential options for the autumn meeting.