MOULTON — The Lawrence County Commission voted Friday morning to implement a $3 fee for each license tag or decal sent via the Postal Service.
The fee will start Sept. 1, said Revenue Commissioner Brad Henderson.
He said a $2 fee per tag was suspended in 2009 because the number of people who could get tags and decals in person was limited by space in the former courthouse annex on Main Street. The new courthouse opened in 2013, but the fee for mailing tags and decals was not reinstated, he said.
The $3 fee could start immediately, according to commissioners, but Henderson said it will take a few weeks to have the software installed and operational.
“We’re simply trying to recoup some of our postage costs,” he said. “It the past, we’ve been absorbing the cost.”
According to Morgan and Limestone license departments, mailing fees are $2 and $1.50, respectively.
Through June 30, the Lawrence County tag office has spent $26,898 on postage and is at 149% of its $18,000 budget. Henderson said not all of the nearly $27,000 postage cost is tag-related.
He said he anticipates his office will save about $700 monthly once the fees begin. He said the money will go back into the department’s budget, which is part of the county’s general fund.
“It’s hard to say if we’ll have a fall-off of people purchasing tags through the mail,” he said. “If somebody has five vehicles, they might decide to come in to save that $15 they would pay if they bought the tags through the mail.”
At Wednesday’s work session, County Administrator Heather Dyar said the general fund is facing another deficit in fiscal 2020 if new revenue isn’t generated or cuts in services made.
According to the state license registration schedule, vehicle owners with last names starting with Q and going through Z will be paying the $3 fee a year earlier than other owners. Also leased, commercial and fleet vehicles are renewed in the months of October and November, according to the state license department.
“This isn’t a tax. We’re not forcing this fee on anybody,” Henderson said.
District 4 Commissioner Bobby Burch agreed. “If people don’t want to pay the mailing fee, they can simply go down to the courthouse and use the numbering system Brad has put in place and sit in a climate-controlled room to pay," he said. "There’s never good time to enact an increase, but nobody is being forced to pay.”
Henderson added the online purchases already have a convenience fee attached and the $3 fee does not apply.
In other business Friday, the commission:
• Appointed Patsy Lang, Will Inman and Jan Smith to the board of equalization.
• Appointed DeWayne Key to the Department of Human Resources board.
• Granted Sheriff Max Sanders permission to sell a 2010 Dodge Charger as surplus and purchase a former state trooper vehicle.
• Agreed to place bids on a roof replacement of the solid waste building. The commission voted to give District 3 Commissioner Kyle Pankey, who is the interim solid waste director, the authority to spend up to $40,000 on the roof repair.
• Declared four 2006 Mack dump trucks and a CAT rubber-wheeler excavator belonging to the road and bridge department as surplus. County Engineer Winston Sitton said he will sell the heavy equipment on Iron Planet or govdeals.com. Dyar said the equipment will be on the county’s social media page, also.
• Set a special budget work session for 3 p.m. July 23.