Whitehall-Coplay Press

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Board backs increased vehicle fee

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 by AL RECKER Special to The Press in Local News

Commissioners say additional charge should fund road improvements

Whitehall Township Board of Commissioners at its Monday workshop meeting agreed, with a bit of hesitancy, to back a $5 motor registration fee proposal that is before Lehigh County Board of Commissioners — but not before stating its support must come with a “guarantee” the funds would go for road improvements.

Commissioners further stated the increase in the vehicle registration fee, which will yield the township $1.2 million, must be carried out on a per-capita basis.

Adding a light moment to the issue was Mayor Edward D. Hozza Jr., saying the letter being sent to the county should be notarized. Hozza and Commissioners President Phillips Armstrong are strongly supporting the plan before the county commissioners. Armstrong said other municipalities would get the funding if it is rejected locally.

Armstrong equated the additional $5 vehicle registration fee with the cost of a “happy meal.”

Since no vote is taken at a workshop, after the issue was discussed at length, the board agreed to forward the township’s support to the county commissioners. The county elective officers are gauging the reaction from municipalities before voting on the measure.

“[Lehigh County] can’t use it,” Hozza said of the added vehicle registration funding, since it is to be applied wholly for infrastructure, such as roads.

Commissioner Philip Ginder expressed reservations.

“Government has a habit of not following through,” he said, adding, “The taxes really don’t go to where they say it’s going to go. They tell us one thing and turn around and do another.”

“It’s another nuisance tax,” Commissioner Thomas Slonaker said.

“I think it’s a great program for a municipality,” Armstrong mentioned, saying the county benefits with its bond rating increasing.

Lehigh County Executive Tom Muller brought the proposal, which has state backing, to the county’s board of commissioners.