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NYS Comptroller


Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Department of Motor Vehicles
Oversight and Collection of Snowmobile Registration Fees

Issued: July 11, 2013
Link to full audit report 2011-S-54
Link to 90-day response

To determine whether the Department of Motor Vehicles (Department) is appropriately collecting snowmobile registration fees, and to assess its snowmobile registration practices. Our audit covered the period April 1, 2008 to February 13, 2013.

Snowmobiles operated in the State must generally be registered annually with the Department. The Department is responsible for collecting registration fees and transferring them to the New York State Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Fund (Trail Fund), which is overseen by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (Parks). The Trail Fund supports trail development, maintenance and other services for the more than 10,000 miles of public snowmobile trails in New York State. Members of approved snowmobile clubs pay a reduced registration fee of $45, while non-club members pay $100. The Department retains $10 of each fee, and the remainder is dedicated to the Trail Fund and is disbursed by Parks through grants-inaid for trail services. The Department collected about $16.8 million in snowmobile registration fees for the three years we reviewed.

Snowmobile clubs provide vouchers to members that show member name and the names of any others eligible to register at the reduced rate. The New York State Snowmobile Association (NYSSA) produces the approved voucher and maintains a membership database. The Department's snowmobile registration application requires that registrants provide a valid voucher and certify they are club members to qualify for the reduced fee. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Department and NYSSA allows the Department to share registration data with NYSSA.

Key Findings

  • Department practices have allowed snowmobile registration discounts to registrants who are ineligible for them, resulting in less revenue to the Trail Fund for trail services. As a result, 31 of the 50 discounted registrations (62 percent) we sampled were for registrants for whom neither the Department nor NYSSA could confirm eligibility. Given the weaknesses we identified, we estimate lost revenues to the Trail Fund may be significant.

Key Recommendations

  • Clarify or revise Department policies to provide consistent and effective oversight of the registration process, especially with regard to acceptable proof for registration discounts. Effectively communicate any changes.
  • Improve communication and information-sharing with NYSSA to provide better assurance that discounts are given only to eligible registrants. Follow up on known risk areas.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation: Use of New York State Snowmobile Trail Development and Maintenance Funds (2011-S-5)

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Assistant Comptroller: Jerry Barber
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email:
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236