- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 5, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Virginians who have heard how cash-strapped the state is will start to feel it in their wallets.
The state is imposing or raising at least 18 fees and fines to collect more than $200 million during the next two years to fight the budget shortfall.
Starting last week, court costs for traffic offenses increased $12. Filing a civil lawsuit in General District Court has gone up $4, bringing the tab to $22. And recording a land deed has become $10 more costly.
Beginning July 1, motorists caught speeding on highways will pay $2 more for each mile per hour they exceed the speed limit. The price of a driver's license, car registration, notarized documents, vital records and boat registration also will go up a few dollars. By then, that $22 lawsuit will cost $24.
Robert Vaughn said he couldn't remember this many increases at one time in his 15 years as staff director of the House Appropriations Committee.
But without them, the state faced further personnel and service cuts in already lean departments, Mr. Vaughn said.
Some fees haven't been raised in years. The notary fee, which will increase from $25 to $35, hasn't gone up since 1979.
Car registration, increasing from $26.50 to $28.50, has held steady since 1986. License fees, which will rise from $12 to $15, haven't increased since 1984, said Pam Goheen, spokeswoman for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
The DMV will collect $50 million in the next two years from increases in registration fees and the sale of copies of driving records. The money will be earmarked for homeland security.
The state calls them fees, but activist James Parmalee calls them taxes.
"It's all really the same," said Mr. Parmalee, president of Republicans United for Tax Relief, a Northern Virginia group. "It's a dishonest way of keeping taxpayers from knowing."
Anna Herrera, 20, said she wasn't thrilled about paying $82 on Monday for her hit-and-run citation.
However, the same ticket would have cost her $94 on Wednesday, when the fees were increased. Come July 1, she could have faced a $99 bill because in the spring localities may consider a state law that permits them to raise court costs an additional $5. The $5 fee is expected to generate about $10 million annually statewide.


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