Thursday, October 11, 2007
feature Biloxi lighthouse
By SUE WATSON
Anyone who goes in to renew their vehicle registration sticker - with a few exceptions - will get a new tag. The magnolia blossom on the old tag is replaced with the Biloxi lighthouse, long recognized as a landmark of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a sentinel erected in 1848.
Betty Byrd, Marshall County tax collector, said Mississippi changes its tag design every five years.
Another change starting in October is the month sticker that is affixed to the bottom left corner of the license plate, she said. The three-letter abbreviation for the month the tag is due to expire will be changed to the numeral. The abbreviation for October - Oct. - will now be a number 10.
Anyone who owns a vanity tag - personalized numbers and letters that make a statement - will be able to keep their vanity tag. The license plates for vanity tag customers will be preordered, Byrd said.
Byrd purchased a vanity tag with the letters and number - GT 4 BB - which she said stands for GT Mustang For Betty Byrd.
Anyone who has bought a specialty tag - for example, Nascar, University, Wildlife, Realtor - will not change their license plate.
All handicapped designated tags - those with the wheelchair logo - are also due to expire like the magnolia tags. All plates with a handicapped symbol on them will expire by September 2008, Byrd said.
“Anyone who comes in to renew a disability tag must have a new doctor’s form filled out,” Byrd said.
Forms are available online at www.marshallcoms.org. Click on tax collector to find the form.
“Fill out the form and get the doctor’s signature when you renew your tag,” Byrd said.
Other information the public may not be aware of is that the tax collector’s office keeps none of the money it collects and has nothing whatsoever to do with the setting of ad valorem tax rates. The cities, the county and the schools set the ad valorem tax rates and the monies collected are disbursed to the different entities, Byrd said. Her office strictly acts like a bank for collections and disbursements.
The tag fee goes entirely to the State Tax Commission whose job is to pay to have the plates designed and printed.
Anyone who gets a notice from Byrd’s office to renew their vehicle registration can send payment by mail to the office and receive a new license plate and registration sticker in the mail, she said.
Two offices are available, if anyone chooses to go by the office to purchase a tag and registration stickers. The main office in Holly Springs is open weekdays except holidays. The Byhalia tax collector’s office is open Wednesday and Thursday each week. Byrd said she hopes to have the Byhalia office open full-time by November 1.
“As always, it is a privilege and honor to serve the taxpayers of Marshall County,” Byrd concluded.
Joe Blount, commissioner of revenue for the state tax commission, explained why the lighthouse was chosen for the new license plate design.
Throughout its 159 years, the Biloxi lighthouse has aided ships navigating the Mississippi Sound, he said. It has survived a score of hurricanes, including the great storms of 1947 and 1969.
And, on August 29, 2005, it stood defiant against the wind and surge of Katrina. Today, it is no longer just a beacon to seafarers, but a tangible testament of resilience. The Biloxi Lighthouse stands proud and tall, representing those who weathered the storm.
“This tag design is intended to be a reminder to us of all those who lost so much from Katrina; to serve as a symbol of our citizens’ commitment to recovery as well as a symbol of our gratitude to all Americans for their prayers and generous support.”
The license tag commission consists of the governor, state treasurer, attorney general, and state tax commissioner. The state tax commission provides the staff assistance for the license tag commission.
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