By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — It will soon become a little more expensive to register a motor vehicle in Laconia.
The City Council decided Monday to increase to $5 a registration surcharge that helps pay for road improvements and other transportation needs.
The charge now stands at $1.50. The city registers about 20,000 vehicles per year, so the $3.50 increase is expected to raise an additional $70,000 annually.
City Manager Scott Myers said the hike will go into effect on July 1.
He said the additional money can be used to help pay costs for a $2.5 million transportation bond that is included in the proposed budget. There is also an additional $1.55 million in transportation funding in the budget as the city works to upgrade roads in need of repair.
Bond debt makes sense as a way to handle large projects in a community, Myers said.
Also, interest rates on a 10-year bond of this type are only about 3 percent.
"From a longer-term perspective, rates are historically low right now," he said. "We would expect more normal levels as the economy improves."
At a council meeting on March 27, Councilor Robert Hamel explained that this fund will be flexible for a number of potential transportation uses.
"All the things this fee can help support go from roads to bridges to bicycle and pedestrian facilities, parking lots, electric charging stations for vehicles," he said.
Councilor Henry Lipman said city roads are in major need of improvement.
"My recollection is we are about $10 million short of where we want to be in terms of having our roads up to condition," he said.
The city manager concurred.
"I think it's a greater number than $10 million, but yes we are many millions behind in bringing everything up to an acceptable average or better condition," Myers said.
The surcharge was created under state legislation, which capped the fee at $5. Hamel said a proposal in the Legislature would increase that cap to $10.
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