Unicoi County goes to one-sheet vehicle registration

Brad Hicks • Apr 26, 2014 at 12:48 PM

ERWIN — Changes to the vehicle registration process are coming to Unicoi County, changes that County Clerk Mitzi Bowen feels will bring added security, cost savings and convenience to county residents.

Bowen’s office has been selected by the state to participate in a pilot program aimed at improving motor vehicle renewals starting with decals valid through 2015. Through the program, vehicle registrations and tag decals will be instantly printed onto one sheet in the clerk’s office.

“Instead of a piece of paper, it’s going to be card stock paper that the customer is going to get with their decal already on it,” Bowen said.

Unicoi County is the second county in the state to implement the new vehicle registration program — Sumner County went on the pilot program late last year. Bowen said Unicoi County should go online with the program within the next couple of weeks, once her office receives stock paper from the state.

To implement the program, Bowen said she purchased four of the specialized printers for her office, adding that the state will reimburse her for the purchase of three of the devices. She said the extra printer will cost around $500, but the county should save money in the long run as the new system reduces paper and printing costs.

Employees of the county clerk’s office currently staple decal stickers, which they get from decal books sent by the state, to registration paperwork.

The move should result in increased efficiency and greater customer convenience, Bowen said, adding that customers are “going to be able to get in and out quicker.”

Bowen also said the program should lead to a decrease in the number of stolen decal stickers.

“We have a lot of problems with stolen decals,” she said. “Before, your decal number was just a random number, how the state issued them. Now your decal is assigned to the plate, so your decal number is the same as your plate number. So when the customer takes that decal out of the office, it belongs to that plate.”

Stoney Hale with Business Information Systems, the software provider to the clerk’s office, said Bowen’s office was chosen by the state to participate in the pilot program based off past initiatives implemented by the office, such as being the first county clerk in Tennessee to implement realtime updates on duplicate titles.

“I’ve always jumped on board when any new technology has came out,” Bowen said. “Anytime you manage your office, you have to stay up with modern technology to better serve your customers.”

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