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Mat-Su considering permanent car registration for older vehicles

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: Jacob Curtis - 8:09 PM July 29, 2014

Folks in the Mat-Su Valley are thinking about giving their borough a new title — old car capital of Alaska.

There are nearly 84,000 cars in the Valley built before 2006, according to DMV records.

Mat-Su resident Curt Christiansen owns three of them and says his 14-year-old mini van does the job.

“Gets me to work and back every day and gets my kids to school and back every day,” Christiansen said.

Sooner than later he’s going to have to put some extra money into it and is hoping it won’t be on registration.

“It’s around 200 every two years. I have three cars. That’s about $600,” Christiansen said.

A new permanent statewide vehicle registration program kicks off in January. For any car 8 years old or older, simply pay an initial registration fee and for an extra $25 you’ll never have to go back to the DMV. It works for all trailers too.

But as part of House Bill 19, all local governments that gain revenue from vehicle registration taxes can choose if they want to participate.

Assembly member Jim Colver is pushing for the Mat-Su Borough to be the first area to opt in.

“I’ve been asking around and I haven’t talked to one person who said ‘not a good idea, don’t do it,’” Colver said. “We’ll have that debate. We’ll look at the pros and cons when we have the public hearing.”

Opting for permanent registrations ultimately means less revenue for the borough. Colver believes the Valley will have no trouble getting by.

The City of Palmer, however, says it would be an unexpected financial blow.

“We’re going to lose about $28,000 in revenue and obviously that’s not a little amount of money. It’s quite a bit to us,” said Palmer Mayor DeLena Johnson.

Colver will push for the Valley to be the first to allow permanent registration at next week’s Assembly meeting.

The public will be able to weigh in September. In a time when every little bit counts, you have to ask where the money is needed most. In the government coffers or taxpayers’ wallets?

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