Vehicle-registration fees in Salt Lake and Davis counties could go up next week, if two proposed fee increases are approved.
Officials in both counties are considering adding $10 to the current yearly fee to pay to preserve rights of way for future roads.
The Salt Lake County Council on Tuesday gave preliminary approval for the fee increase and will make a final vote next week. Just up the road in Davis County, commissioners are also expected to vote on the fee increase during their Tuesday meeting.
The 2005 Legislature gave counties the option to levy the $10 to preserve highway corridors. The increase would generate about $175 million for Salt Lake County over the next 25 years. The money would go toward purchasing rights of way in the Mountain View Corridor, where a planned west-side highway is now under review for its environmental impact.
"As a Republican, I never like raising user fees, but I think this is forward-thinking," said Councilman Michael Jensen, who represents much of Salt Lake County's west side. "Buying the property now at today's values makes sense."
County officials need to start thinking about future roads now, Jensen said. The west side will be bustling in the next 30 years, with Kennecott Land expecting to bring in 500,000 new residents within the next 75 years as it develops property it owns.
At the county meeting Tuesday, West Valley Mayor Dennis Nordfelt thanked the council for "having the courage" to be one of the first counties to consider the fee boost to secure roads in the future.
"We now know the corridors we need for the next 30 and 50 years," Nordfelt said. "You can save the taxpayers today and taxpayers tomorrow and taxpayers 50 years from now literally millions and millions and millions of dollars."
The council had been scheduled to give final approval on the fee hike Tuesday, but questions about proper notice prompted the council to wait another week to give county taxpayers a chance to have their say.
Meanwhile, Davis County wants to levy the fee to pay for land to extend Legacy Highway farther north. Every little bit helps, said Syracuse Mayor Fred Panucci, because it is cheaper to purchase land before it is developed. "We are looking at something that will save the taxpayers millions and millions of dollars," Panucci said.
Officials in all counties must decide by April 1 whether they want to levy the fee, according to the 2005 legislation. If not, they'll have to wait another year.Salt Lake County officials want to move fast, as the state has agreed to make a $10 million match toward the Mountain View Corridor.
Contributing: Joseph M. Dougherty