9 Investigates: Not everyone will benefit from lower tag-renewal fees



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Since 2009, just about every fee Florida drivers pay for their vehicles has doubled.
In September the cost for tag renewal will decrease, but Channel 9 investigative reporter Christopher Heath discovered that none of the other fees are going down, despite a suggestion to the governor to return all the fees to pre-2009 levels.
Evelyn Caban is one of the dozens of motorists at the Orange County tax office Wednesday preparing to pay almost $50 for a one-year tag renewal.
"It's really difficult to pay a high rate just on a [license] plate," said Caban.
The registration fee that Caban will pay was essentially doubled in 2009, with all the extra cash going to Tallahassee. But this year, Florida has a budget surplus.
Gov. Rick Scott just signed legislation that will return the registration fee to its pre-2009 level. But that is the only fee that is going down, and it won't take effect until September.
"It doesn't seem fair; everybody's birthday that is in April is getting cheated," said Orange County resident Tatiana Villa.
In Florida, owners of standard motor vehicles renew their vehicle registration every year by their birthday.
All other fees are staying intact.
New-vehicle fees, increased from $100 to $225 in 2009, will not change. Nor will driver's license fees, increased from $27 to $48s. The cost of a copy of a car title, increased from $24 to $70, will not come down.
"The state has seen about $5 billion in fee increases over the last five years," said Orange County Tax Collector Scott Randolph.  
Heath has confirmed that in 2013 Julie Jones, the head of the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, suggested to Scott a rollback of all vehicle fees to pre-2009 levels.
But Scott only proposed a reduction of registration fees, saying he wanted to help as many drivers as possible, despite a report by the Senate that shows dropping just the new-vehicle fee would save Florida drivers another $117 million.
"I have really no choice right now but to renew my tag," said Villa. 

Some Florida drivers have the option of renewing tags for two years. Tag agencies across the state are encouraging drivers to only renew for one year if they have to renew before September.