PHOENIX (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of drivers will receive $ 32 reimbursement checks from the Arizona Department of Transportation.
About 200,000 checks are mailed this month, worth about $ 6.6 million, according to ADOT.
The Republic of Arizona reported that the refunds involve controversial public safety charges that were part of the vehicle registration fees that were approved three years ago and later waived.
Senator Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, told the newspaper she added reimbursements to the state budget for people who paid the fees in June because ADOT should not have charged them that month here after its repeal.
“It is totally inappropriate for the legislature to give the power to tax to an agency,” Ugenti-Rita said of the fees. “There’s a whole host of reasons it was all bad news all around. “
Lawmakers approved the fee in 2018 to pay the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which manages the state’s highway patrol.
Funding for the ministry previously came from money that would otherwise have paid for road repairs and improvements.
The fee was originally estimated at $ 18 per year and was intended to free up money for road repairs. But the amount of the fee was not set by law and was left to ADOT to determine.
After ADOT announced the fee amount of $ 32, the public outcry increased and Ugenti-Rita and other lawmakers canceled it the following year.
But the 2019 law repealing the fees left it in place for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years. The money went entirely to the Department of Public Security, not ADOT.
The state’s fiscal year runs from July to June. People who register their vehicle in June have valid registrations until the end of June.
Ugenti-Rita said ADOT should have stopped charging the fees at the end of May, according to the Republic.
ADOT still charged the fees to those who registered in June. These people had valid registrations until June 30 and should not have paid the fee, Ugenti-Rita said.
Ugenti-Rita said she brought it to the attention of the governor’s office and received approval from Gov. Doug Ducey to include reimbursements for June records added to the state budget.
ADOT spokesman Douglas Pacey said processing the 200,000 refunds “is about four to five months of work condensed into one month.”
He said ADOT had to hire an additional printer to prepare the checks.
“They are the ones who screwed up,” Ugenti-Rita said of the agency. “They should never have charged the fees to start.”