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Vehicle tags may carry sticker shock
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When you go to renew the tag for your vehicle, you may be surprised to see that it costs more than it did last year.

The fee for special license plates has increased from an initial cost of around $35-$45 to $80, said Keith Echols, Hall County tax commissioner. Renewal rates have increased from $25 to $35, which is an addition to the annual $20 registration fee that everyone pays.

“A lot of people who have specialty tags have been (surrendering them) because of the extra costs,” Echols said.

“Now they’re just getting regular tags.”

Although many local taxpayers are feeling the pinch, the increase isn’t a local one — it is a state mandate recently signed into law by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

“I think the state made a mistake by (increasing the fees), because a lot of the organizations that (sponsor) the specialty tags aren’t going to get that money now because people are turning those tags in,” Echols said.

Dozens of Georgia nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions and other entities have specialty tags, with most receiving $10 per tag sold. Brenau University and North Georgia College & State University have their own specialty plates.

Despite the increase in fees, local tax offices still only get to keep $1 per tag sold.

Even with fewer people renewing their specialty tags, Echols says there have been some issues with getting the “educator” sticker for the “support education” license plates.

“We don’t have any in stock, but they are still available,” he said.

With more than 200 different kinds of specialty tags available, the state doesn’t readily supply each type of tag to all counties in Georgia, officials say.

“We don’t stock every single plate in all 159 counties — that wouldn’t be cost effective or smart,” said Reg Lansberry, of the Georgia Department of Revenue.

“We have a manager at our warehouse that is in touch with the counties and who tracks orders. If the manager notices that a particular county sells a lot of three or four specific plates, he’ll make sure that they are available in that county, because he knows they sell a lot of them.”

Getting the specialty plates is just a matter of placing an order because the department ships tags daily, Lansberry said.

Even though every tag isn’t always in stock at a particular tag office, Lansberry said all Georgia residents can get any of the available tags either by mail order or by making a request at their county tag office.