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Tag renewals might be late, but are coming, officials say

Officials cite vendor's bankrupcy for delays

Posted: December 2, 2015 - 1:01am
Columbia County residents line up at the tag renewal office.  A billing vendor's bankruptcy is causing registration renewal bills to be late.  Photo by Jim Blaylock
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Columbia County residents line up at the tag renewal office. A billing vendor's bankruptcy is causing registration renewal bills to be late.

Columbia County drivers with December birthdays will be getting their registration renewal bills, but a little later than normal as the state continues to work through issues with vendors charged with sending them out.

County Tax Commissioner Wayne Bridges said that bills for those with December birthdays were mailed out before Thanksgiving, which is later than average. But residents should have received a letter from the state Department of Revenue. The letters tell drivers their options for renewing automobile registrations and paying ad valorem taxes, instead of mailing a payment: either online, in person at a county tag office or at a self-service kiosk.

The problem began in September after the vendor mailing the bills, World Mar­keting, filed for bankruptcy, Bridges said Friday. He was informed that residents were receiving bills late or not at all. Bridges said his staff prepared and mailed out bills for some of October and November after receiving information files from the state.

“Our people have stepped up and done a great job,” Bridges said, adding that a monthly run is usually about 12,000 bills. “It really is a lot of work involved. It’s a lot of letters to print and fold and mail.”

The confusion that has ensued across Georgia led to the state’s decision not to try to mail a bill for December, affecting about 15,000 customers in Richmond County, and instead mail the reminder letter. Bridges said he asked the state not to mail out the letters to Columbia County residents, but the letters went out anyway.

“We knew there was going to be some confusion,” Bridges said.

But the state didn’t notify Bridges’ office about December bills until late, but county residents will get their bills just maybe a little later than normal. He said the December bills were mailed out on Nov. 24. ­

“It’s a pretty big task when you are trying to do it internally,” Bridges said. “They didn’t give us much notice.”

For those with birthdays in early December, Bridges said his staff will be offering some leeway on the late penalties.

Bridges said he’s been told the state secured another vendor to handle the billing.

“We’ve been assured that January’s bills will be out and on time,” Bridges said. “All we can do is kind of wait and see on that.”

Until a permanent and reliable solution is found, Bridges said he’s prepared to get the bills out locally. But that requires information from the state and in plenty of time to prepare the bills.

“We think we can get it done,” Bridges said. We just need to know from the state whether we need to get it done ourselves or not.”

“If we can’t get January straightened out with the state, we’ll probably start looking for a third-party vendor on our own.”

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