**CORRECTION: A headshot that ran in the April 9 edition of The Washington County News and Holmes County Times Advertiser captioned as Holmes County Tax Collector Bill Bell was incorrect. The Holmes County Tax Collector is Harry Bell, and the photo that ran was of Otis Corbin. The Washington County News and Holmes County Times Advertiser apologizes for the error.**
Washington and Holmes county residents will soon be paying less for vehicle registration and title fees with last week’s passing of a bill that rolls the fees back to their pre-2009 rates. The measure is expected to mean an annual savings of between $18 and $25 for vehicle owners here.
The Legislature raised the fees in 2009, along with others associated with driver’s licenses, drivers’ records and ID cards. The move was meant to generate revenue at a time when state’s finances were tight.
Despite backing the fees in 2009, Republican legislative leaders supported the rollback, which is effective Sept. 1.
“From day one of the 2014 legislative session, Gov. (Rick) Scott and the Florida Legislature committed to making a reduction in vehicle fees the centerpiece of meaningful tax relief for Florida’s families,” said Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. “I am pleased to see (the) bill become the centerpiece of the governor’s $500 million ‘It’s Your Money’ tax cut and honored to witness this recurring reduction in vehicle registration fees become law here today.”
Washington County Tax Collector Ken Naker reminds residents who still need to renew before September that they should renew for only one year in order to receive the savings for the next time their renewal is due. In fact, Naker is temporarily removing the two-year renewal option on notice statements to help ensure motorists here don’t lose out.
“Beginning September 1, 2014, most people will see an average savings of about $18 to $25 – depending on vehicle type – on their tag registrations and renewals,” said Naker, “While this is good news for some, it’s not for the thousands of motor vehicle owners statewide who have already renewed for two years. The legislation prohibits any refunds for the higher fees paid prior to the September 1 effective date, so I will be temporarily removing the two-year renewal option offered on the tag renewal notices mailed out each month. This option will still be available if desired, but again, there will be no benefit from the registration fee reduction.”
Holmes County Tax Collector Harry Bell agrees – and added that he and other tax collectors statewide are pleased at the bill’s passage.
“I’m extremely happy the Legislature was able to get this passed and that the citizens are going to get a reduction in the fees they’re having to pay,” said Bell. “When this first took place in 2009, our Association of Tax Collectors was very concerned and expressed disapproval at increasing the fees so dramatically.
Bell also said he hopes this reduction may serve as a gateway for others.
“There are other fees I hope to see reduced, such as the initial registration on a first or additional vehicle tag,” he said. “That fee is around $225, and that’s a big fee. It can be tough to pay that.”
For more information on how the bill affects their vehicle registration, Washington County residents may call Naker at 638-6275, and Holmes County residents may reach Bell at 547-1115.