Charging New York motor vehicles registration fees based on weight could generate more than $1 billion for the cash-strapped Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. said last week.

He proposed the fees, as well as a reinstatement of the commuter tax, just days after the MTA announced a doomsday budget that would slash service and raise tolls and fares by a net 23% to close a $1.2 billion budget gap in 2009.

“Once again, the MTA is looking to New Yorkers to cover its budget shortfalls while simultaneously cutting services and delaying key projects,” Thompson said in a press release. “Instead of asking New Yorkers to dig deeper into their pockets to ride the subway or bus, we need creative approaches to address our transit needs.”

Under the car fee proposal, New York residents in the 12 counties served by the MTA would pay $100 to register vehicles weighing 2,300 pounds or less and an additional nine cents for every pound over that. The state requires that cars be registered every two years to pay a $30 vehicle use tax. The new fee would raise car owners’ costs by an average $200, Thompson said.

The commuter tax, repealed in 1999, imposed a tax on employees who worked in the city but resided elsewhere. The reinstated tax would generate about $762 million annually, Thompson said. New York City budget director Mark Page has also called for the tax to be reinstated.

Thompson submitted his proposal to a commission headed by former MTA chairman Richard Ravitch, which will release a set of recommendations on Friday to find new funding sources for the authority’s operating and capital shortfalls.

In a statement, the MTA neither endorsed nor opposed the proposal.

“We are working cooperatively with the Ravitch Commission … and appreciate the support of all elected officials who have proposed ideas for funding the transportation network that powers our economy,” the agency said.

The MTA operates the largest mass transit system in the country.

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