Public Safety Fee going into effect

This new and much-needed fee is the result of weak and/or duplicitous politicians who have neglected to honestly fund transportation in Arizona for decades; despite sporadic efforts that always fail in Arizona’s Republican-controlled legislature. They are so stridently, and uniformly ideological that they can’t even admit that gas tax revenue, because of the way it’s structured, have been going steadily down in real terms, for well over twenty years. The same is true at the federal level as well.

The primary source of revenue for the HURF is fuel taxes, levied at the point of sale at a flat rate per gallon. The 18 cent per gallon for gasoline was set in 1991; some twenty-seven years ago (federal rate of 18.4 was also set in 1991. An addition 1 cent/gal excise tax to fund toxic cleanup from leaking underground fuel storage tanks was set separately, not sure when). That totals 37.4 cents/gallon including all state and federal taxes. There are no sales taxes on gasoline in Arizona.

From one perspective, a flat fee per vehicle is more “fair” as a use tax since some vehicles use much less taxable fuel (including zero, in the case of electric like my Leaf) than others like the much heavier “light” trucks (primarily pickup trucks and SUVs) that are increasingly popular with protracted inexpensive gasoline.

On the other hand,  users (burners) of the fuel pay nothing for the toxic air pollution created; primarily NOX which forms our lovely “brown cloud”.

On average the amount raised by the $32/vehicle would represent a big jump if funded via an increase in per gallon tax; e.g. 12,000 miles per year @ 25mpg would equal ~ 7 cents/gallon.

The old chestnut about how bicyclists (and what about peds?) don’t pay their “fair” share is an urban myth… but bicyclist infra advocates must resist the urge to frame infra as “for” bicyclists; providing separate space (like a bike lane, or cycle track) is a convenience for motorists; enabling motorists to pass bicyclists without delay.

To track bill history, note that there was a substitution, HB2166 for SB1146 (select 53rd, 2nd Regular session). The bill is hard to read/follow; and also fools around with VLT (vehicle license tax) calculations. An early version of this bill would have completely eliminated the VLT tax break given to “alternative fuel vehicles” (nowadays, mostly BEVs — battery electric vehicles).

Here’s a press release about the new fee:

Public Safety Fee going into effect
Fee to be collected during vehicle-registration process

Beginning Dec. 1, Arizona motorists expecting vehicle registration renewals will see a new Public Safety Fee. The fee was established by state law to support public safety and Highway Patrol operations. The fee goes into effect for registrations due in January which can be paid as early as Dec. 1, and immediately for newly registered vehicles.

The fee will be collected during the vehicle-registration process administered by the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division. Arizona statute established the method for collecting the fee and sets the process for determining the amount based on a formula designed to support Highway Patrol operations.

Highway Patrol operations — among the most visible functions of the Arizona Department of Public Safety — include response to collisions on Arizona highways, enforcing state laws designed to keep the motoring public safe, arresting impaired drivers, assisting motorists in distress, air-rescue operations and patrolling more than 6,800 miles of highways.

Most motorists will pay $32 per vehicle, per year. Street-legal golf carts and primarily off-highway vehicles will pay $5. Those who register a vehicle annually or pay for a two- or five-year registration will pay the entire amount up front for each registered year.

The funds raised through the Public Safety Fee will not only provide necessary dollars for public safety, but will advance maintenance and construction of Arizona’s highway infrastructure, including the state’s Key Commerce Corridors that support economic development around the state.

Over the past decade, much of the Highway Patrol’s budget was considered part of the Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund, the gas-tax account that supports Arizona roadways, including law-enforcement support. The new $32 Public Safety Fee will allow gas-tax money to support roadway maintenance and construction, while providing a different source of funding for Highway Patrol operations.

For more information:

For details on the enabling legislation, visit:



2 thoughts on “Public Safety Fee going into effect”

  1. We too, have an electric vehicle and therefore do not buy gas. No gas for riding our bikes either. It will be interesting to see where this issue (transportation funding) goes as more EV’s come into use.

  2. By the way, I got new tags in July (got car July 2017) and went for the 5-yr option… did i just dodge a $160 bullet? Maybe I got lucky!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *