It's the thought that counts, right?
More than 150,000 Minnesota drivers will receive a refund from the state for an unnecessary surcharge they paid when transferring and renewing a vehicle registration at the same time.
But don't hold your breath. The refund owed will amount to no more than $2.25.
While drivers will get just enough change to cover the cost of a small coffee, the Department of Public Safety and its Driver and Vehicle Services division will pay out a total of about $337,000 in fees it wrongly collected over a five-month period.
Minnesota Management and Budget began issuing the refunds this week. Up to 5,000 refunds per day, Monday through Friday, will be made until all the refunds have been mailed.
Under state law, drivers must pay a $2.25 title technology surcharge and a $2.25 registration technology surcharge fee when a vehicle title is transferred and registration is renewed in one transaction.
After reviewing the statutes, however, state officials determined that only the title technology surcharge should have been collected.
"It's important that we return the fee to anyone who paid more than they should have," said Emma Corrie, who heads the Driver and Vehicle Services division. "We are also taking steps to make sure no one else is overcharged in the future. We will also be tracking these types of transactions so that we can correct the situation as quickly as possible."
The state updated its vehicle services system on Jan. 13, allowing deputy registrars to waive the second $2.25 fee for all future transactions. Officials will continue to track the issue going forward, Corrie said.
Minnesota's new vehicle title and registration services system, scheduled to launch in November, will correct the problem for good by removing the additional fee from these types of transactions.
The state set up a phone number — 651-296-0118 — to explain what happened to those receiving the refund checks. The following message will play: "Driver and Vehicle Services issued refunds to vehicle owners who paid the $2.25 technology surcharge twice when they transferred their title and renewed registration. Only one technology surcharge should have been charged. If you received your refund, please accept it with our apology."