One of the advantages to driving an older car is the fact that in Arizona, vehicle registration fees are on a scale based in part on the age and value of the car.

My car is an older model, and generally, the cost to renew my vehicle’s registration has been low … but this year, it nearly doubled.

According to my notice from the Arizona Department of Transportation, my vehicle license tax is $36, with another $9.50 going toward registration and air quality. No big deal, right?

Then, I hit the line that says “Public Safety,” which tacks on another $32.

I knew the fee was coming. It was the source of several stories in the Yuma Sun late last year, and is based on the Highway Patrol budget, Capitol Media Services reports.

The state used the new fee to balance its budget, with the $32 fee financing the Highway Patrol. That in turn frees up Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) to go back to cities and counties. Those HURF dollars were intended to be used for road construction and repairs, but have been swept by the state over the last several years to pay for the Arizona Highway Patrol.

This new registration fee allows the state to pay costs without technically passing any new taxes.

But families on fixed incomes or who are struggling to make ends meet, $32 has an impact.

Think about what you can do with $32 at the grocery store — eggs, milk, vegetables, peanut butter, bread … $32 can be stretched to feed a family for a few days.

The Yuma Sun recently reported that 35.5% of children in Yuma County are food-insecure, uncertain of where their next meal is coming from — for those families, $32 is a hit.

While I understand the need to fund Highway Patrol and road repairs — and believe me, I see the roads around Yuma in need of some serious TLC — it is still annoying to see that $32 fee.

A better solution may have been to add to the gas tax. The 18-cent-a-gallon levy has not been raised since 1991 when gasoline was in the $1.20-a-gallon range, Capitol Media Services reports. Nobody likes taxes, but that would be a gradual hit based on how much gas one purchases, and may have been more palatable in smaller amounts.

In the meantime, I’ll pay my registration fees. But the state needs to reconsider this, and find a way that makes more sense.

What do you think readers? Is the $32 fee acceptable, or should the state choose another route? Let us know. Share your thoughts online at, or send in a Letter to the Editor at

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