Controversy Over Extra Fees

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Controversy over extra fees Houston County residents must now pay for tags and licenses is causing commissioners to rethink the Probate Office's decision to implement the fees.

Ten years ago, a $3 dollar recording fee was implemented to update and modernize equipment for the Probate Office.

That money was used toward things like filing wills and deeds.

Back in 2003, Probate Judge Luke Cooley asked for the attorney general’s opinion, to see if that same fee could be added to tags and licenses, but didn't implement the additional money until the beginning of February this year.

The move caused controversy, which led to the county commission seeking to have a bill passed eliminating the additional money residents must pay for their tags and licenses.

Houston Co. Commission Chairman Mark Culver said, "Our legislators have been real good about passing things that we move forward on a majority, but this time it was unanimous."

Judge Cooley said, "You've gotten a few phone calls. I think we need to look long range, I don't think we need to look at the short fall."

Judge Cooley says the extra money would be used to purchase and maintain high-tech equipment. In turn, this would free up employees from having to file and search for tag and license information by hand.

County Commissioner Bobby Snellgrove suggested the county do away with the bill and give the Probate Office funds, a suggestion that wasn't seen as favorable.

"Down the years, those of you who don't want to be reelected and choose to over on, we'll have other officials we'll have to deal with who might not be as favorable," Judge Cooley said.

However, this controversy could be settled if state lawmakers agree with the Houston County Commission.

Until then, there still will be those who'll have to pay the additional $3 dollars.

The bill proposal will be advertised at the beginning of next week.

After the meeting, News 4 was unable to reach Judge Cooley for further comment.