Proposed rule changes from the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles aim to conserve state funds, but several of those changes will damage the power of local offices, County officials said Tuesday.
One element of the DMV’s new plan is to simplify the state’s registration renewal process by directing more drivers to renew their information online rather than inside traditional county tax centers. The proposed changes would increase the vehicle registration fees by up to $5 per transaction and effectively replace the money that would usually go to benefit the state’s general fund, but would decrease overall revenue by more than $7 million for counties throughout Texas. Improved fuel efficiency and falling gas prices have decreased the oil-producing state’s general fund.
The new rules and fee reductions “would force 21 business locations throughout Bexar County to close,” said Bexar County Tax Assessor Albert Uresti, adding that the closure would also result in the loss of many local jobs.
Uresti said the new rule would reduce Bexar County’s compensation rate from $2.90 to $0.25 per transaction, and lead to a loss of over $900,000 in annual registration fees for Bexar County each year. This would hurt counties and businesses, he said, requesting that Commissioners support his resolution to oppose the rule changes.
“Under these proposals, it will be less expensive and more convenient for Texans to renew online than it is today,” said TxDMV Executive Director Whitney Brewster during a recent board meeting.
The new rule proposal would also “reduce the burden on and expense to counties to process such transactions,” stated TxDMV in a proposal summary release. “The state can perform this duty at a lower cost and ensure excellence in customer service through vendor requirements,” aimed at saving customers money and time through an online process.
“It’s funny because you constantly hear how the federal government is trying to take away state’s rights, but what I’m seeing is that they’re trying awful hard to take away local rights,” Uresti said, adding that it would cost taxpayers millions to reestablish County tax offices.
The motion to support the resolution passed unanimously, and several commissioners thanked Uresti for bringing the issue to the public’s attention.
“I think this is going to be one of several issues that will arise during coming legislature, where we will be cutting funds so we will be assessed new duties without compensation,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “It’s one of those things that they do, that you’ve highlighted, that they’re not quite laying all the facts out.”
Top Image: Image of new Texas registration stickers. Screenshot from TxDMV website.