The $3 dollar fee was approved by state lawmakers in 1997, but at the time, Houston County’s probate judge did not see a need to implement the fee.
Now, 10-years later, with support from the state attorney general, the Probate Office is requesting the fee go into effect immediately.
This increased transaction fee is causing a lot more controversy than county commissioners and the probate judge ever anticipated.
However, as it stands right now, it looks like the proposal will be overturned at Monday’s County Commission meeting.
The Probate Office is ready to make some major technology updates. The changes are going to be expensive. To raise the funds, a $3 dollar fee for most transactions is being proposed. A vote is being held Monday, January 12th, to approve the added costs.
Mark Culver, with the CHMN Houston Co. Commission says, "Our elected officers try to be responsive to calls and they've received calls and they are being responsive."
Members of the commission have received several phone calls against the proposed fee increase.
Probate Judge Luke Cooley is concerned that without the increase, a new vehicle tag software program will not be approved by the county commission. "This way I have the money coming in on a regular basis that I know I can use for the probate department," he explains.
The new software program would allow the county Information Technology employee to focus on other departments, creating a more efficient system. If the added receipt fee is denied, any needs the probate judge has would have to be funded by the county commission.
Culver says, "She's been using the money to fund recording equipment. If the increase is taken off, the money will continue to come from the general fund."
The $3 dollar fee is already in effect in Houston County, but if the commission overturns the decision, the added fee will be terminated immediately.
In addition to the increase in tag and driver's license fees already in effect, starting March 1st, an added $3 dollar fee for conservation and business licenses will be initiated if the county commission does not overturn the increase.
If you have concerns about the proposed probate fee increase you are asked to contact your county commissioner before Monday morning's meeting.