Note: This column appears in the 1/27 issue of The Glendale Star and the 1/28 issue of the Peoria Times
I am not a cheap person. I don’t mind spending money. When I was younger I had almost every pair of Air Jordan sneakers. Granted, that was usually my mom’s money I was spending. But still.
What does bother me, however, is when I am forced to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a mandatory service, which is not so much a service as it is a small sticker.
Indeed, I reluctantly renewed my vehicle registration last week. It’s bad enough to have to pay fees associated with motor vehicles. I know many people enjoy cars and what not, but for me, my vehicle is simply a means of getting to a job that enables me to pay for that vehicle. Anything that exceeds the standard fees—monthly payments with interest, gas, insurance, and having the dried stucco removed that splashed onto the vehicle after driving through one of this area’s five zillion construction zones—causes me much angst.
Actually, we had considered Arizona’s lack of vehicular fees—namely toll roads—a major plus upon moving here. My father-in-law just informed me that it now costs him $14 a day to cross the Verrazano Bridge to get to work. $14! To cross a bridge. This is not a luxury item—he needs to cross the bridge to get to work because his car, unfortunately, does not float. They—and by “they” I mean the two government trolls that operate either side of the bridge—raise the fee, it seems, every year. Because they can.
You cannot drive away from your house back east without at least $200 on hand to pay for the service of using roads that were last paved in 1972. Luckily, this inconvenience helped introduce the EZ Pass, which made it EZier to pay pointless fees, a service for a service. Now you don’t even have to slow down much to pay money, although the automated EZ Pass zones have resulted in additional fees.
I was glad to put all of these fees in my rear view mirror. Toll roads are like many cultural trends, in that Arizona will discover them 30 years after the fact. A couple of years ago, however, I opened my car registration renewal form and realized that Arizona has its own means of absorbing fees in the interest of motor vehicle … recognition?
Knowing the expense, I was not looking forward to this recent renewal. Lo and behold, the registration fee went up like, a lot, as it seems my new vehicle has become more of a burden on the state to recognize. For a two-year renewal I paid $564. Now, what bothers me, besides paying $564, is the fact that the one-year renewal was $363. You get a discount for renewing for two years. The discount implies a strategic forfeiture of profit on the state’s part, which irks me to no end. This isn’t “buy one pair get the second half-off” at Payless. This is a car registration. It should just be a flat fee. And it should be much, much lower, because as the state has acknowledged via a discount—it could be.
Nevertheless, as is my motto for many things, what am I gonna do? It’s paid. I now happily await the arrival of a tiny new sticker to place on my license plate that will let the world, and police, know that I paid $564 to drive my car around. What color will the 2013 sticker be? Blue? Green? I hope it’s green. It should be.