Thousand Oaks Backs Plan to Restore Higher Vehicle Fees

From a Times Staff Writer

Facing more than $10 million in lost state revenue through next year, the Thousand Oaks City Council is urging state lawmakers to raise vehicle license fees to 1998 levels.

Five years ago, when California had budget surpluses, the Legislature agreed to lower the fee that motorists pay to register their vehicles. To ensure continued services on a local level, the state provided "backfill payments" from its general fund to make up the difference.

Now that Gov. Gray Davis is projecting a $34-billion deficit, he has proposed eliminating about $4 billion in backfill payments through June 30, 2004. City officials say they can't do without the funding, so vehicle fees should be restored to the higher level.

"Services such as public safety, library services and road maintenance will be compromised," warned City Manager MaryJane V. Lazz, who estimated the budget crisis could rob Thousand Oaks of $4.02 million through June 30 and $6.3 million more next fiscal year.

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