EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 23, 2013

Salem rejects $5 vehicle surcharge

SALEM — The town has nixed a plan to charge residents an additional fee to fund road improvements.

The proposal, rejected by selectmen last week, would have added $5 to the cost of registering a motor vehicle, according to Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride Jr.

The plan was introduced to selectmen by town Finance Director Jane Savastano and Town Clerk Susan Wall as a way to boost town revenue.

Since Salem has registered approximately 2,700 vehicles this year, the $5 fee would produce at least $13,500 in additional revenue, according to Wall.

But selectmen did not feel comfortable hitting residents with another fee, according to McBride and Selectman Stephen Campbell. They dismissed the proposal without even taking a vote.

“We felt like we’re already asking taxpayers to pay enough,” Campbell said.

Savastano told selectmen that several other communities charge a similar fee, including Derry. Other communities include Dover, Bedford, Claremont and Hanover.

The registration fee has been charged in some towns for nearly two decades, she said. The Salem proposal called for the town to establish a special capital reserve fund, McBride said.

Savastano said the $5 fee would provide substantial revenue at a time when the town is trying to fund numerous road and bridge projects.

The town plans to reconstruct five bridges on the state Department of Transportation’s red list of structures in urgent need of replacement or repair. Work is now underway to replace the Bluff Street and Providence Hill Road bridges.

Also this year, the town is developing designs for the reconstruction of the Shannon Road and Teague Drive bridges. The town was forced to suddenly close the Teague Drive bridge last month because it was unsafe.

The town is also reconstructing several streets this summer after voters appropriated $5.25 million for the town’s road program in March.

The roads include Millville Street, Mall Road, Pond Street, Sand Hill Road and Stiles Road.

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