St. Clair Co. looking to impose vehicle tag fee to make up for lost pistol permit revenue

Sheriffs' departments to be given grant money
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 10:38 PM CST
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ST. CLAIR. CO., Ala. (WBRC) - This week, the state is set to start giving grant money to sheriffs’ departments that are losing money by not selling as many pistol permits, thanks to a new state law.

St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray said his department has already applied for the grant money from the state, they are just waiting to see how much they are awarded. State guidelines said the amount is set to be based off what the county sold in permits in 2022, which Murray said was already down nearly 50%.

Sheriff Murray said they also didn’t sell many permits in January, now that they are optional for gun owners. He said they are predicting a $250,000 annual loss right now, but he expects that number to keep growing as more people don’t buy permits.

Sheriff Murray and the St. Clair County Commission are now backing a proposal for new legislation that would allow them to charge a $2 tag fee on vehicles, boats and trailers. They sell thousands of tags a year, so if approved, the new fee could help them make up for some of the pistol permit loss.

“It is public safety,” Murray said. “Life saving equipment is what this is able to supply. Bullet proof vests, lifesaving equipment, or patrol cars. When you take that much of a cut in funding, you have to find other avenues to replace that. Here’s the one thing we will never do, is decrease our law enforcement services, so we gotta figure out how to make it up, one way or another.”

The county can’t charge you that tag fee unless the state legislature approves it. The sheriff said he’s not sure when they will actually see the new state money meant to make up for the permit loss.

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