Suffolk Drivers Hit With Costly Fees

James J. Mackin

Arthur French has a 1951 Mercury, a show car that is driven, at most, 500 miles a year. So, needless to say, he was taken aback when his registration renewal came in the mail from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The bill: $231.50. Granted, French, a Wainscott resident, pays extra for a vanity plate, but since he has two other vehicles that will need to be registered, the hefty charge surprised him.

It shouldn’t have. Suffolk County residents pay more to register a vehicle than almost any other county in the New York State. Renewal fees are $30 annually for a vehicle that weighs 3500 pounds or less, and $60 for 3501 pounds and over. Coincidentally, French’s Mercury is listed as a few pounds over.

There’s more: in addition to the Suffolk tax, again one of the highest in the state, there is an additional “supplemental charge” of $50. It is, technically, called the MCTD (Metropolitan Commuter

Transportation District) Tax, and it is levied on “anyone with a car registration in a county where the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) provides services,” according to the DMV.

“It’s one of the many ways the state finds to give the MTA money,” said County Legislator Bridgett Fleming. The money is forwarded to the county by the DMV. In addition, Suffolk County pays $3.5 million annually to the MTA. “We pay about half-diem as NYC residents,” Fleming said, “and get a fraction of the services.”

The state bailout of the MTA — the Long Island Railroad is the only MTA service East Enders use —has long stuck in the craw of State Assemblyman Fred Thiele.

“The car registration surcharge in the MTA region was part of the overall [state] deficit reduction plan,” Thiele said. “The MTA payroll tax was also part of this plan.”

Thiele voted against the package. “The whole focus was on more taxes, but little in spending reduction, and needed oversight. I couldn’t support it,” he commented.

There is also anther surcharge on car registrations that gets forwarded to the MTA: $1 every six months. It may not be the last. “Now the MTA is broke, again. Hold on to your wallet,” Thiele said.

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