Snafu means thousands haven't renewed vehicle registrations

Thousands of people throughout the state are driving vehicles with expired registrations because they never received reminder postcards to renew their tags.

The postcards, which are sent by the state, were not mailed for January tag expirations because of a controversy in determining the value of vehicles, said David Gordon, the state's executive director of the Office of Property Valuation.

The administrative snafu was cleared up recently, and reminder postcards for January and February vehicle registrations are being mailed Wednesday, he said.

"Hopefully by the weekend people will start to receive those notices and will be able to come into the clerk's office next week and begin paying," Gordon said.

People with January renewals will be allowed to register their vehicles through the end of February without incurring penalties or interest.

Even without the reminder postcards, many motorists renewed their car registrations in January because the tax usually is due during their birthday months.

In Jefferson County, about 45 percent of the January registrations were renewed, said Nore Ghibaudy, spokesman for the county clerk's office.

The hit wasn't as dramatic in Fayette County, which processed about 73 percent of the expected 26,000 vehicle renewals, said Pam Hill, manager of motor vehicle registration in the county clerk's office.

"People have called ahead, gotten their total over the phone," Hill said. "We've had a lot of Web renewals and of course, a lot of walk-ins, but not near as many as we should."

The hold-up in issuing the January postcards was caused by a change in the way the National Automobile Dealers Association reported vehicle pricing for new and used vehicles, Gordon said.

In previous years, NADA has had one main trade-in value, but this year it added two more valuation methods.

Initially, the state decided to use one of the new trade-in values, called an average trade-in value, which would have lowered the amount of taxes collected.

However, the Kentucky Department of Revenue reversed itself late last month and decided to continue using the old valuation method, known as a clean trade-in. The move averted a loss of about $17 million in revenue at a time when the state is facing a projected $456 million shortfall this fiscal year, which ends July 30.

The state hasn't decided whether it will ask those who completed their registrations in January to pay more based on the higher valuation, Gordon said.