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MVA draws firm's ire with overbilling

March 21, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

The Motor Vehicle Administration accidentally billed a Hagerstown trucking company for an extra month's vehicle registration, an MVA spokesman said.

When Kay Trucking and Contracting received a $6,509 bill last month to register four dump trucks, manager Carl Wilson figured the cost was about $460 too high.

Wilson said he got angry after calling MVA officials and getting nowhere.

"It's awful. It's hard enough making a living running trucks," he said.

A reporter sent the bill to MVA spokesman Richard Scher, who later acknowledged the trucking company was mistakenly billed too much.

The problem apparently stemmed from a decision by the MVA to stagger registration for heavy duty trucks in 1999. For the first time, companies like Kay Trucking can renew their vehicles for six, nine, 12 or 15 months.

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Previously, tags were only valid for one year and all of them ran out in the same time period, generally April or May.

The Maryland Motor Truck Association asked the MVA to allow truckers more flexibility.

President Walter Thompson said the staggered registration helps the MVA because it alleviates the problem of all truckers registering at the same time.

The change also lets trucking companies split their fleets to register some vehicles for six months and others for longer periods. The companies can therefore plan to pay registration fees when it is most convenient financially.

But the staggered terms apparently caused a glitch in the MVA's accounting system, which bills quarterly.

For example, Kay Trucking's registrations run out May 31, 1999. The company requested 15-month registrations, but received tags valid from June 1, 1999 to July 31, 2000.

In other words, the company only got 14 months.

Scher said the MVA billed the company for one year and added three months because it only bills by quarter, not by individual month.

He said the MVA would either refund a portion of the bill or give Wilson credit for the next registration.

Scher said he hasn't received any other complaints but the MVA will settle any billing problems with other companies if they have been charged too much.

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