BOSTON -- Massachusetts drivers face higher costs this summer to have their vehicles inspected each year, to register their vehicles every other year, and to cover road testing costs.
To generate $55 million needed to meet state spending demands, the state Board of Transportation on Wednesday proposed the slate of higher Registry of Motor Vehicles fees, which come on the heels of last year's 3 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax and a law tying future gas tax hikes to inflation.
A public hearing process is required before the Registry fees are increased.
Under the plan, the road test fee for individuals seeking their first license would increase from $20 to $35.
Non-commercial registration fees would go up from $50 to $60. The typical $40 additional fee for specialty plates will remain the same.
The annual motor vehicle inspection fee would increase from $29 to $35 with $1 of that $6 increase going toward the service stations that perform the inspections.
"We have targeted three fees for simplicity's sake," Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey said at a MassDOT Board meeting. He said, "We all knew that reform alone was not enough to fix a broken transportation system."
Registrar of Motor Vehicles Celia Blue said the fees will still keep Massachusetts below the fees levels of most other states, and said inspection fees had last been raised in 1999.
Service stations currently receive $22.50, the bulk of the charge on vehicle inspections, as the Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Transportation share $4.49, and $2 is paid to the inspection vendor Parsons. With the increase, an additional $5 would go to MassDOT.
In selecting those three out of numerous other fees the RMV could raise, transportation officials held flat fees paid for commercial registration, the cost of driver's license renewals or title fees.
Massachusetts Department of Transportation officials also opted against increases in tolls, which are a more limited funding source, as a means for balancing its budget.
The MBTA is planning on an average 5 percent fare increase going into effect in July, as well.
A tax bill that passed in 2013, steering more money toward transportation, required MassDOT to develop 48 percent of its own revenue in fiscal year 2015, up from 47 percent in the current fiscal year. The law calls for MassDOT's own-source revenues to rise in subsequent years as well.
The fee increases are projected to raise between $55 million and $62 million in gross revenue, and MassDOT said excess funds would go toward improved customer service, road and bridge projects and moving employees from the debt-funded capital budget onto the operating budget.
The RMV plans to hold public hearings in May and would need to file its new fees by June 6 in order for them to go into effect by July 1.