DMV fees are going up (again), so where is that money going?

MILWAUKEE -- You can't get far in Wisconsin without hearing complaints about rundown roads; paying to fix the problem is a more complicated conversation.

"I don't think anything has helped to improve any of the roads for as long as I can remember," Richard Liebert said as he walked out of the DMV on Teutonia Avenue in Milwaukee. "And I'm not young."

As drivers prepare for a hike in DMV fees beginning October 1, several are asking: Where's this money really going?

The cost breakdown

Not all DMV fees go to the same place. Several municipalities have wheel taxes; that money stays at the local level. The fees that are going up in October go to the state.

Car registration fees will go from $75 to $85. Title fees will go from $69.50 to $164.50.

Several truck and trailer fees are also increasing. CLICK HERE to see which ones will affect you.

The hybrid issue

Also starting October 1, DOT will collect a $75 yearly surcharge on hybrids. Lawmakers passed legislation allowing the change a couple years ago, but the legal definition of a "hybrid" was more complicated, making it tough for DOT to actually collect the fee.

State lawmakers recently amended the legal definition, which is why the price change is only going into effect now.

Where does it go?

"I think we all need a safe transportation system," Wisconsin DMV Administrator Kristina Boardman said. "And this is one way we can help accelerate those improvements."

DMV fees and the gas tax are the two main sources of state transportation funding. The gas tax has stayed flat for the last thirteen years. After the October 1 price hike, registration fees will have nearly doubled since 2004 and title fees will have increased by 1,835 percent.

The Department of Transportation says the new fees are expected to bring in more than 375 million additional dollars over the biennium. That money goes into a constitutionally-protected fund that can only be used for transportation.

"New highway projects, harbor projects, transit, bridge improvements," Boardman said. "That money is being used to improve the transportation needs throughout the state."

DOT would not get specific about which projects will get the additional money, but Boardman said the work will be faster with more opportunities to help fund local road projects.

"We want to make sure that those roads are safe and that we’re maintaining them to the best of our ability," Boardman said.