Today is Terrie Dechard’s birthday.
And as is the custom of any legal vehicle-owning American, she paid the tax associated with turning another year older on Tuesday.
Now that two satellite tag offices have been closed nearly a month to help the county save money, Dechard said she had to drive 30 miles to downtown Gainesville to perform the annual ritual.
Of course, she didn’t have to drive that far.
County residents have the option to pay their motor vehicle taxes over the Internet or by mail.
Over the past two years, the county has made a concerted effort to make online payment options available for a number of county services, including for property and motor vehicle tax payments, said Nikki Young, public information officer for Hall County.
“This is a great convenience that we hope more residents will take advantage of, and it helps the county staff by reducing office traffic,” Young said in an email.
In the weeks since the satellite tag offices have closed in Clermont and Oakwood, Tax Commissioner Keith Echols and other elected officials have encouraged residents to begin seeking alternative options for renewing their vehicle tags. Those methods would presumably help taxpayers avoid long waits at the one remaining tag office in the county.
And while the growing numbers of tech savvy Hall Countians might benefit from the efforts, there’s still a great number of people like Dechard who aren’t quite there yet.
“I don’t go on the computer,” Dechard said. “I crash them.”
Dechard wasn’t the only computer-phobe at the tag office Tuesday.
“I don’t know anything about computers,” said Aura Urrego, an Oakwood resident who came to Gainesville to renew her tag Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the downtown tag office seemed more tranquil shortly before the lunch hour than it had at any point on the Friday before the Labor Day weekend.
It was why Oakwood resident Jerry Hartley had picked the time to obtain a tag for his new vehicle. His wait for service was no more than 20 minutes — about a third of the wait tag payers said they’d experienced on the Friday before Labor Day.
“I deliberately waited until the middle of the week to come in,” Hartley said. “I knew Friday would be a big day with people getting paid and (knew that) people whose birthday was on the weekend might be coming in.”
Residents with new vehicles must register for their tags in person and can’t avoid the lines downtown by paying online or using the postal service.
Now that his local tag office is closed, Hartley says he’ll be using the Internet for future tag renewals.
And if it hadn’t been for his new car, Hartley said he would have avoided timing his trip to the downtown office altogether Tuesday.
“I wasn’t doing it at Oakwood, because it was just so convenient to go over there,” Hartley said. “Now, I will be (using the Internet).”