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Specialty license plates generated $5.8 million for charity

Updated April 25, 2019 - 9:00 am

Specialty license plates are a big hit in Nevada, and various charities benefit from many of the plates mounted to vehicles statewide.

There were 282,271 active specialty plates on Nevada vehicles as of June 30, 2018, generating $5.8 million during fiscal year 2018, Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles data provided to the state Legislature revealed. Revenue for the charitable organizations is generated by $15 to $25 from the standard specialty plates’ initial $62 cost and between $10 to $20 in annual renewal fees.

Since specialty plates were approved in 1998, the total revenue for the charitable causes they support is just under $68 million, DMV data shows.

The most popular of the specialty plates is the Las Vegas 100th anniversary commemorative plate, which had 93,662 active plates generating $2.1 million in fiscal year 2018, which goes toward historic preservation projects in Las Vegas.

On the low end, the discontinued Nevada Carpenters Union had 47 active plates, generating $962 in fiscal year 2018.

Although the state discontinues producing specialty plates if they fail to maintain a certain amount of active registrations, the plates can be renewed as long as the owner wants to keep that plate.

Legislative auditor Rocky Cooper said continuing to monitor the financial activity of discontinued plates that are still active is a large task the audit division.

The carpenters union’s 47 plates resulted in 100 pages of documents provided to the audit division, for example.

“This creates an inefficiency in the audit division, because audit resources are spent monitoring organizations that receive relatively insignificant amounts of specialized license plates,” Cooper said.

Assembly Bill 467, passed by the Assembly April 17 and heard April 18 for the first time by the Senate, aims to change the requirement for out-of-production plates that generate less than $10,000 in a year.

Under the bill, the charitable organizations behind those discontinued plates would no longer be required to to provide a balance sheet, a bank statement and a description of how the money was expended to the Commission on Special License Plates.

“By creating a threshold where we no longer have to monitor these small plates, it would just help the audit division tremendously,” Cooper said. “Then we could focus our efforts on those higher-dollar resources.”

The specialty plates tied to two professional sports teams, the soon-to-be Las Vegas Raiders and the Golden Knights, weren’t included in the report to the legislature as both became available after June 30, 2018, the end of the 2018 fiscal year. But they have been big hits early on.

Since it debuted in October, the Knights plate has 22,098 active registrations (as of March 31), while the Raiders plate has 3,398 since it debuted in late January, according to DMV spokesman Kevin Malone. The Knights plate is now the second most popular specialty plate, overtaking the Lake Tahoe plate (21,033 active registrations) and sitting behind the Las Vegas commemorative plate.

The Knights have yet to tie their charitable arm, the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation, to their plate sales. The organization told the Review-Journal earlier this year it planned to address the matter this year.

The Raiders have their Raiders Foundation tied to their license plate. The proceeds generated by the plate sales go toward a nonprofit organization of the Raiders Foundation’s choice, through a grant process that is committed to increasing community and civic health, supporting the military or youth development.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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