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Could some specialty plates be on the way out in North Carolina?
Last year the state General Assembly passed a bill (HB289) to eliminate multicolor designs used on specialty license plates in the state, and replaced with the “First in Flight” background plate beginning in July of 2015. The issue now goes to legislators during their short session in May.
According to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, there are currently over 27,600 Blue Ridge Parkway specialty plates in the state. Since 2004 that has generated revenue for the Foundation and the Parkway of over $3,400,000 and over $1,700,000 for the state. Specialty plate owners pay $30 each year on top of the standard $28 DMV fee. DMV keeps $10 while the organization of the featured plate keeps the other $20.Foundation officials also add that in 2012 alone funds are in excess of $650,000.
The Foundation not only allocates funds directly to the Blue Ridge Parkway but to other organizations including Blue Ridge Conservancy, Conservation Trust of North Carolina and Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Officials add that items that would be affected by specialty plate loss of income would be: hiring seasonal rangers to staff visitor centers, Parkway rangers educating children, providing wildlife cameras for monitoring, funding for Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, construction of bathrooms and other visitor amenities and facilities, and providing for safety and visitor protection equipment and trainings.
The plate design has been approved twice by the North Carolina Highway Patrol, twice; once for the car plates and second for the motorcycle plates.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park parks went back on sale in late February. More than 20,000 North Carolina automobile owners sport those plates each year according to the News & Observer of Raleigh.
Friends of the Smokies collected $430,000 in North Carolina license plate revenues in 2011. Since 1999 the group has collected over $2.7 million from the North Carolina plate and another $6.7 million from a Smokies plate in Tennessee.
Overall there are more than 160 specialty plates in the state with over 250,000 automobile owners sporting them now.
The General Assembly decided last year that starting in 2015 DMV shall issue standardized plates. The new design must be “easily read by the human eye and by cameras installed along toll roads. Currently the state only has one toll road, the Triangle Expressway, in Durham and Wake counties.