Anyone sporting wildflowers, trout, UGA or any of Georgia's other 240 specialty designs on their license plates will be hit with an unexpected fee next time they go to renew their tags.
In the past, drivers had to pay an extra fee, usually $35, only when they first received their special tags, according to local tax commissioners. Now they will have to pay the premium every year thanks to new fees Georgia state legislators passed.
Catoosa County Tax Commissioner Sandra Self said she expects many drivers to hand in their tags and choose the cheaper standard plate when they discover the fee.
"I think they'll turn the plates in," Ms. Self said. "But we don't have enough plates to replace them."
Tag offices in Northwest Georgia have been low on supply of many plates and decals since the state has changed its distribution strategy for the plates.
Whitfield County Tax Commissioner Danny Sane said he doesn't appreciate the added fees and doesn't think his customers will either, especially at a time when unemployment is high and family budgets are tight.
"It gets to be almost too many hands in the pie," Mr. Sane said.
The new fees are the first of a slew of fee hikes and professional license increases that will go into effect across the state.
State Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, said the state had to increase revenues somehow and targeted fees made more sense than across-the-board tax hikes.
This way, he said, residents only pay the fees for what they use.
"If you didn't receive that service, then your taxes would unjustifiably go to a service you did not receive," he said.
Continue reading by following these links to related stories: