Mixed emotions on day after new car tag bill goes into effect

Tuesday, October 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Until Monday, Daniel Carter had never left the car tag agency with a smile on his face before.

"Five hundred bucks," Carter said, holding up five fingers to emphasize his point. "That's what I paid for one last time."

This time, Carter wrote a check for $85 to get a new tag for his mobile home. And that put him into a very pleasant mood.

"Of course it did. It's not just the lower price. But when the government backs down and gives people a break instead of squeezing us more, that's something to be positive about," he said.

Oklahoma's new car tag law took effect Sunday, but Monday was the first day people could take advantage of the new prices. Tag agencies across Tulsa reported seeing a lot of customers in unusually good moods.

"Several people have left here very happy today," said Pat Jackson, manager of Billie's Towne West Tag Agency. "People knew tag prices were going down.

"But now that they are seeing it, they're realizing just how much cheaper they really are. And it's a very good surprise for them."

The new system bases the tag price on the age of the vehicle rather than on the value, as it was previously. No car will cost more than $85 to tag.

And as vehicles age, the tags get cheaper, until a car will cost only $15 to tag after it is more than 17 years old.

David Ennis paid more than $150 for his last tag, but spent just $75 Monday to renew the tag on his 1994 Honda Civic.

"Not a bad deal," Ennis said on his way out the door of the Central Tag Agency. But then Ennis said he didn't save any money on his tag by driving a relatively inexpensive car.

Carter paid just $10 more than Ennis to tag a mobile home, which cost several times more than Ennis' two-door coupe.

"It doesn't exactly seem fair. I guess somebody could come in here with a big Mercedes and pay the same as me."

People who were transferring titles on newly purchased used cars also weren't quite as happy. The new law increased the excise tax on newly purchased used cars.

"Some people are really flipping out," said agent Jim Barnes.

"They come here with a used car, expecting to pay maybe $20. And we tell them it's more like $120. That makes a very big difference."

Then there are people who bought their cars in September and mistakenly decided to wait until this month to renew expired tags.

Instead, they are still paying the old, higher prices, and some are paying late fees as well.

"We try to explain it to people, but this is still new and some people get confused," Barnes said. "Some people, are leaving here very disappointed."