A group of cities and counties are suing the state over
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's order to
roll back a recent increase in the state’s vehicle license fee, The Los Angeles Times reported Dec. 17.
The group is being led by the
governments of the city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County, which between
them will lose nearly a quarter of the $4 billion that experts say local
governments will lose under the governor’s roll back, the newspaper said.
vehicle license fee – for both cars and big rigs – dropped in 1998 after the
General Assembly passed a law that cut the payments made by vehicle owners
subject to California registration, according to a letter from Ken Reed, chief
of the state’s IRP office. However, the same bill, Reed wrote, required the fee
to return to its previous, higher level when California’s general fund did not
have enough money to pay for the “offset,” or reduction.
The higher fee is fairly new. California is in the midst of
a significant budget crisis and faces large deficits. That meant the 1998 law,
requiring the fees to go up, was triggered; the higher fees went into effect in
The fee is based on a percentage of a truck’s value. On a
$100,000 rig, the fee last year would be $650. After Oct. 1, the fee on that
hypothetical truck went up to its former level, roughly $2,000. The
average car fee increased at that time from $76 a year to $234.
The money goes to local governments to pay for such services
as police and fire protection. The Times reported
that local government shortfalls are running roughly $11 million a day.
In addition to Los Angeles, The Times said, the counties of
Contra Costa, Humboldt, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara,
Tuolumne, Tulare and Yolo also plan to sue.
"Sacramento, either we see
your dollars in our police stations and firehouses … or we will see you in
court," Los Angeles Councilman Jack Weiss, a former prosecutor, told the