Melbourne, Florida (Florida Today) -- Merritt Island resident David Boring was pleasantly surprised to learn details of a new state law that will save him money in the future on vehicle registration fees.
For most vehicle owners, registration renewal fees will decrease between $13.55 and $25.05 a year, depending on the type and size of the vehicle, and whether it is owned or leased. For a Chrysler minivan, for example, the annual vehicle registration fees will decrease from the current $71.15 to $46.10. For a Honda Civic, the fee falls from the current $46.65 to $28.10.
The cuts, which were unanimously approved by the Florida Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year, take effect Sept. 1.
With five children and four vehicles in his family, Boring said, "any time we can get a reduction, I'll take it."
Brevard County Tax Collector Lisa Cullen agreed.
"Every little bit helps," she said.
In Brevard County, 40,831 vehicle registration renewals are due in September alone, Cullen said.
Statewide, the fee is likely to save Florida motorists about $400 million a year.
Cullen conceded the timing of the fee cut is part political, with Gov. Rick Scott and most of the Florida Legislature up for re-election this year. "This was one of his big initiatives" Cullen said, referring to Scott.
But the bottom line is Florida residents will benefit.
"A break is a break," said Pamela Smith, manager of the tax collector's Merritt Island branch office. "It's a good thing."
Here are five things Cullen wants drivers to know about the changes:
1. Fee savings vary.
Most customers will see a general annual fee reduction of $13.55.
But the rest of the savings depends on the size and type of vehicle.
For example, the annual vehicle-specific fee decreases by:
• $3.50 for motorcycles
• $5 for autos less than 2,500 pounds and trucks less than 2,000 pounds
• $8 for autos 2,500 to 3,499 pounds and trucks 2,000 to 2,999 pounds
• $11.50 for autos 3,500 pounds or more and trucks 3,000 to 4,999 pounds
• There is no vehicle-specific savings for trucks 5,000 or more pounds or for any leased vehicle.
2. There is no fee reduction on the initial vehicle registration.
That fee remains at $225.
Other fees, such as for a driver's license or vehicle title also remain unchanged.
3. Time your visit to the tax collector's office carefully.
The busiest days are Monday and Friday, especially at the beginning or the end of the month. The busiest times are 8:30 to 10 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and 4 to 5 p.m., when the offices close for the day.
In contrast, Wednesday's are the least busy, especially from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m.
Cullen said customers also can go online to make an appointment at brevardtc.com
Residents will be able to renew their registrations at the new rates starting Sept. 1 online and Sept. 2 in branch offices. The offices are closed Sept. 1 for Labor Day.
Cullen said, because of the way the state's computer system is set up, the Tax Collector's Office can't process renewals with the new fees until September.
4. Don't do anything illegal.
The fee cut takes effect Sept. 1.
But Cullen said it is important to remember that vehicle registrations expire at midnight on the day of your birthday. So don't wait until September to renew if your birthday is in August and you plan to drive the vehicle in question.
The cost of a citation is significantly higher than any savings you'd get on the reduced registration fee. In addition, late fees may be assessed on delinquent registrations.
"We don't want to see anyone driving illegally," Cullen said.
5. But don't take a two-year renewal option if you're renewing this month.
For those registrations that are due for renewal in August, you will want to renew for one year, instead of the two-year registration, in order to take advantage of the lower fees next year.
If you already purchased a two-year renewal, you're out of luck. There are no refunds.
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