Vail Valley Voices: State mandates auto registration fees, not Eagle County |

Vail Valley Voices: State mandates auto registration fees, not Eagle County

Teak Simonton
Vail, CO, Colorado

It is a commonly held notion that for every person who registers a complaint there are 10 more who are also unhappy but remain silent.

Unfortunately, these folks tell 10 of their friends about their disappointment, and the dissatisfaction snowballs.

Thus, the imperative need for organizations to provide consistently good service, good communication and to be 100 percent transparent regarding the rationale for the way things are done.

For me, as an elected official, responding with gratitude to anyone taking the time to report their dissatisfaction with my department is immensely important. Complaints are often a gift, allowing me to identify gaps or missteps and make improvements for the future.

However, there are instances when the reason for a complaint is not something we control.

The Eagle County Clerka€™s Office finds itself in this position these days due to new state laws which mandate not only increases in vehicle registration fees, but much more significant penalties for late payment of these fees.

For those of you upset about these fees and penalties, please allow me to explain their origin.

Beginning July 1, the state Legislature raised registration fees based on weight for vehicles, trailers, motor homes and motorcycles. At the same time, late penalty fees were increased to $25 a month following the normal grace period (one month after expiration) to a maximum of $100.

These are not a€œusea€ fees, but are a€œownershipa€ fees. It doesna€™t matter if you use the vehicle once a year, 50 times a year or not at all.

Clerka€™s offices around the state have absolutely no authority or ability to waive any of these fees or penalties. The money goes to the state and the county realizes no additional revenue from these increases.

Despite our efforts, and the statea€™s efforts, to effectively communicate these recent changes, we see many surprised faces at our front counter when people attempt to renew their registration after the grace period.

As a courtesy, and as most of you know, we mail a reminder to everyone several weeks before their vehicle or trailer license expires.

While it is understandable for people to be upset about paying penalties for late registration, it is their responsibility to remember to renew on time.

We have listened to many reasonable and understandable excuses at our counters, and believe me it is frustrating to have no flexibility on these matters.

We recommend that you pay attention to your stickers on your vehicles and make sure you renew on time. That way youa€™ll not have to pay any penalties. The increased registration fees are here to stay, and indeed, they will be increasing for the next several years.

Since I took office in 2003, my team and I have worked hard to expand our public services, improve our approach to customer service and operate with the utmost integrity in every area of our responsibility.

I believe wea€™ve done a good job with these goals, and I certainly welcome your comments if you think we can do better.

Hold us accountable for the things we control and give us the chance to explain the situation when youa€™re disappointed with something we cana€™t.

For those who threaten to withhold support or future votes for me I offer this analogy: blaming me or my staff for state-mandated laws that increase fees or penalties is like blaming the checkout clerk at City Market for the increasing price of groceries.

Teak Simonton is the Eagle County clerk and recorder.

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