Tag Crackdown Continues

Hancock County authorities say a second crackdown is planned for early next year to identify and ticket county residents who have not registered their cars in Mississippi. Counties bordering Louisiana have faced a tag problem for years. The cost of a vehicle tag in Mississippi is based on property values of the city and county where a resident lives and can cost several hundred dollars. A car tag from Louisiana averages only $20 to $25 a year.

Lawmen completed a round of roadblocks earlier this month. Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber said authorities ticketed 56 Hancock County residents driving with out-of-state tags during the roadway checks set up from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4. The roadblocks were in Pearlington, Diamondhead, Bayside Park, Shoreline Park, Lakeshore and in rural areas. ``I'm happy to see law enforcement doing what they're doing,'' said county Tax Collector-Tax Assessor Jimmie Ladner. ``It's a big problem.''

A Mississippi tag for a $20,000 new car registered in Waveland costs $407. Of that, about $155 would go to the county, about $74 to the city and $177 to the Bay St. Louis-Waveland School District. State law requires that residents who file for homestead exemption in Mississippi must have their cars registered in the state. ``It's serious money the county is losing,'' said Ladner, who said he has no way to estimate the number of violators. ``And it's not so much the money we're losing, it's a matter of equity. For every Hancock County resident not paying for the tag, other people are paying that bill.''