The NH Highway fund has been losing money for a number of years due to a number of factors, mainly costly gas and consumers response to the increase cost by buying more fuel efficient vehicles. An article in the Union Leader reports that a commission is studying alternative ways besides a gas tax, to raise money for the Highway Fund. "Commission member Rep. Norman Major, R-Plaistow, asked Legislative Services to produce a bill that would charge what is being called a “road usage fee” to be assessed against the owners of fuel efficient vehicles whether they burn gasoline, diesel, propane, natural gas or are powered by electricity. "
The higher the mileage rating, the more you would pay. If you went all electric, you would be at the highest rate. The proposal would use the US DOT mileage estimates, identifying the "user" by the vehicle VIN, and the Town Clerk would collect the fee at the time of registration and renewal.
The proponents estimate that the fee would raise $35-$50 million for the Highway Fund.
This is a long way from being made into law, and I am sure that many in Concord will find a host of pros and cons, but it is clear to even a casual observer that some in Concord do not think that a fee is the same as a tax. And they further believe that we are too stupid to see the difference.
What this also does is negate to some extent , the value to the consumers who purchased fuel efficient vehicles to save money, particularly those with long commutes. Hybrids are also expensive, so many are paying more in monthly payments and insurance so that they can save money on gas. Let us also not forget that burning less fossil fuel is a good thing for the environment.
When the NH DOT needs more road money, they can then just increase the base mileage per year and the fee goes up. Thank goodness we are not being taxed!
We all use the roads in one way or another, whether we drive on them or purchase goods that are delivered on them. We need to figure out a way to pay to maintain and improve them. Our property taxes pay for our local roads for example. We all pay a share of that as we do with school taxes.
We also need some honesty from Concord. They refuse to raise the gas tax as they don't want to be branded as having increased taxes, so they hide behind increased " fees." When we renew the registration on our 13 year old jeep in few months, I estimate that we paid about $3,400 in " fees" since we bought it " tax free."