Exercising a one-time provision in state law, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved a $1 increase in motor vehicle registration fees for Riverside County residents who drive their own cars, and a $2 increase for operators of commercial vehicles, in a move to boost funding for a forensic program.
“I’m all about small taxes, but I think we need this,” Supervisor Jeff Hewitt said. “I think it’s very important.”
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries cast the sole dissenting vote on the issue of raising the AB 2393 fee, saying that he could not accept raising taxes when constituents are already paying too much.
“All these little fees add up, and that’s why I’m opposed,” Jeffries said.
Supervisor Karen Spiegel said it was a net positive, because the money supports “a direct service” to residents.
“It’s a challenge if we don’t have (technology) up to date,” she said.
Sheriff Chad Bianco requested the hikes, which will take effect in six months and result in residents paying $2 to cover the AB 2393 component of vehicle license fees for their personal vehicles, and commercial operators paying a total of $4. Currently, the rates are $1 and $2, respectively.
The law permits a one-time increase that each county must enact by resolution.
According to sheriff’s officials, the funds derived from the doubled surcharges will go directly to bolster Cal-ID, the state’s 35-year-old forensic data collection system, which processes and analyzes evidence 21 hours a day, seven days a week.
The hikes are expected to raise just over $4 million annually, and the sheriff’s department said the additional funds will be earmarked exclusively for county operations, mainly to replace more than 50 automated fingerprint identification and live scan machines used at sheriff’s correctional facilities and patrol stations, as well as at municipal police departments countywide.
New units will need to be installed by 2023, officials said.
“Without the increase in revenue, Cal-ID would need to make drastic changes in operational costs and may not be able to provide certain critical programs and the level of service that our member agencies currently receive,” according to an agency statement.
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