Wheel tax stickers may change

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Marshall County motorists may be getting a different kind of wheel tax sticker next year, according to discussion during the most recent meeting of the county commission's budget committee.

"We spend about $2,400 a year on stickers," County Clerk Daphne Fagan told committeemen, adding examples from other counties and how changing her office sticker practice will save money and prompt compliance.

Wheel tax stickers are custom made for each county. The stickers have a colored background and display the name of the county, a month and numbers to distinguish the stickers from others, both in and out of the county.

Fagan attempts to buy enough stickers to cover her needs, but not too many so as to avoid having leftovers that can't be used. The purchase is based on an estimate. Running out of stickers is not an option. A few years ago, Enterprise, the car rental business, had an office here and it registered "hundreds" of cars. She didn't discuss why, although no exhaust test is required here.

Fagan plans to cut her office costs one of two ways.

One is to purchase and issue stickers that are sequentially numbered without a month or date displayed. Motorists who are renewing their tags would be required to present their old sticker at the time they buy another. Without the old sticker, the car owner would be required to pay for two years of stickers, because without proof, it would be assumed that the car owner hadn't paid the wheel tax for the preceding year.

Under this option, Fagan might buy 150,000 stickers to last at least five years instead of one year. Without wasted stickers, the supply of stickers might last more than six years.

Another would be to abandon issuance of a wheel tax sticker.

Rutherford County attempted to go without a sticker and the public reaction was negative. Motorists didn't like paying a tax and not getting something that they'd received in the past.

Changing the method of collecting wheel taxes and issuing stickers, or issuing no sticker, "will make it harder for the Sheriff's Department," Fagan said.

Regardless, she said, "We really haven't had that many people to come in" to get a wheel tax sticker on their own. "Dealerships tell them (car buyers) you don't have to have one. You do" have to have a wheel tax sticker on the license plate of vehicles registered in Marshall County.

Another aspect of vehicle registration and renewal is that new tags will be issued by the state next year, Fagan said.

"I don't know what they will look like," the county clerk said. "We change tags every six years."

Recognizing Fagan's plan to cut spending in her office, Commissioner Sheldon Davis commented, "Next year, we can cut her budget."

Fagan shot back with a smile: "You're so funny."

Rutherford County saved $15,000 in one year," Fagan said. "We won't save that much."

There seemed to be a consensus among the county budget committeemen that Fagan should proceed with her plan. Right now, that appears to be buying sequentially numbered stickers.

In other discussion on that evening of Feb. 23, Budget Director Freda Terry told committeemen Bank of America approached her offering provide accounting services to the county and its vendors when those vendors are customers of the bank. Committeemen indicated that they'd want to hear the proposal from that bank's officials before expressing any opinion.

Also that evening, Marshal County's Library director, Jan Allen, reported the Library Board wants to spend "undesignated funds" in the library's annual budget to have a new book circulation desk designed, built and installed. Such a custom job would cost less than a factory-made piece and it would serve children, library patrons with a handicap, and be more efficient for the librarians. Allen said a formal request would be submitted in time for the March meeting of the commission.