State law may shut longtime Newcastle tag agency

Wednesday, January 9th 2008, 10:29 pm
By: News 9

By Mary Joseph, NEWS 9

NEWCASTLE, Okla. -- A tag agent who has been in business for almost 30 years may be forced to shut her doors because of an Oklahoma state law.

By law, if you run a tag agency, you need to live in the county where your tag agency is located. Despite that law, a Newcastle woman has stayed in business, until now.

Oveta Hill has been running Newcastle Tag Agency for 27 years. She works with her daughter,  Gayla. Their goal is to make customers smile. But Hill's smile disappeared when she got a letter in the mail. "I felt like a criminal and I am not a criminal," she said.

The letter states that because Hill lives in Grady County she is violating state law. She must live in the same county where her tag agency is located, McClain County. Hill said her primary residence is in Grady county, but she owns a house in McClain county and considers Newcastle her home.

Oklahoma state  senators appoint tag agents. State Sen. Anthony Sykes said it was the Oklahoma Tax Commission who contacted him about Hill's residency. He said the state agency is following the law.

"Just like if I moved out of my senate district, you forfeit your office. Both the state law and tax commission rule say that," Sykes said.

Sykes said the Tax Commission asked him to appoint a replacement. He appointed a friend and supporter of his election as the new tax agent in Newcastle. He said the new appointment has strong ties to the community, but Hill's supporters are calling this a political favor.

"I think it is, I'm sure it is, but you know, I can't prove that," Hill said.

Hill has given up hope that she will stay in business. She is preparing to close the doors.

Members of the community have scheduled a town hall meeting in Newcastle at 7 p.m. Thursday  to discuss the situation. The meeting will be held at the public library.

Citing a scheduling conflict, Sykes isn't planning to attend the meeting.