Two-Year Car Tag Plan Means Oklahomans Could Pay Double

Monday, February 14th 2011, 7:21 pm
By: News 9

Ed Murray, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A proposed change to how the state registers your vehicles could mean more money leaving your wallet. The plan calls for a switch to a two-year car tag.

The proposal is contained in Governor Mary Fallin's 2012 executive budget. She believes it will bring in a one-time only increase to state coffers of more than $100 million and meet her budget plan laid out in her state of the state address.

"The public expects a leaner more efficient government, not one that raises taxes to avoid making the tough decisions and sacrifices," said Fallin in her State of the State address.

But sometimes a sacrifice can feel like a tax increase because the plan would mean residents will pay double their current car tag fee in the first year if it becomes law.

"In the long run, it washes out. So I think what we would tell people is to remind them it may seem like an increase now but they won't be paying anything next year," said Alex Weintz, Governor Fallin's Communications Director.

But Paula Sanford has been in the tag agency business for 30 years. She said she's never seen customers happy with any change in how fees are collected.

"It's usually anger, or frustration, or dissatisfaction," said Sanford.

Sanford is also concerned as a small business owner. She has a payroll and expenses to meet.

"We gross about, I'd say 7,000 registrations a month. That would cut them down to 3,500 and cut our gross in half for the year," said the Edmond tag agent.

Office of State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger agreed a potential loss in revenue is a valid concern.

"I think that where we're at today, we've got to go through the legislative process to see how that ultimately looks," said Doerflinger.

The governor's office believes creative solutions like this proposal will help avoid deeper cuts in other state services. But as the plan is presented now, Sanford plans to tell her representatives ‘No' on this one.

"Absolutely, it makes it easier for everybody," said Sanford.

Weintz said the plan, as written, is just a starting point for negotiations with legislative leaders.

Lawmakers must also decide how to handle situations where owners move out of state or sell their car with more than a year remaining on their tag. Other states give a credit or refund, but right now, this plan has no refund provision.