To fund road repair, Delco may charge more for vehicle registration

N. State Road in Springfield, Delaware County Pa. (Google Maps)

N. State Road in Springfield, Delaware County Pa. (Google Maps)

Registering your car in Delaware County could soon cost an extra five bucks.

The County Council — which switched over to Democratic control for the first time in generations — is mulling a new fee that could raise millions for infrastructure repair, as first reported by the Delaware County Daily Times.

If the measure passes, Delaware County would join Philadelphia, Montgomery, Bucks, Chester and 19 other counties across Pennsylvania that charge $41 for each vehicle registration instead of $36. The state incentivizes counties to tack on this $5 fee by matching any money raised.

Delaware County officials estimate they would raise around $4 million for local roads and bridges in the first year — $2 million from registration fees and $2 million from the state.

Some say this move is necessary because the increasing fuel efficiency of cars threatens a crucial source of infrastructure revenue: the statewide gas-tax. That money is a prime source of funding for road and bridge repair.

Pennsylvania already has the fifth-highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges, according to a recent report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

In 2019, municipalities in Delaware County received just under $16 million through the state’s Municipal Liquid Fuels Program.

Any money Delaware County raises through the new registration fee will be placed into a “dedicated fund” for “transportation infrastructure improvements,” said council member Christine Reuther.

Reuther would like the county to prioritize the repair of roads that wind through several townships, a problem distinct to high-density suburban counties like Delaware.

“You have four or five municipalities connecting on a road within a few block radius,” said Reuther. “And sometimes those areas are the hardest roads to get repaired.”

Fellow council member Kevin Madden says he sees the fee as a form of shared vehicle maintenance.

“When we see a big pothole in the ground we can’t go out there and fix it ourselves,” Madden said. “This is why we have government.”

The registration-fee proposal was first introduced last week. It will receive a second hearing before the County Council votes on it. Reuther expects that second hearing to take place next Tuesday.

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