Out of Control Policy Blog

Texas Nets $2.5M in Specialty Plate Auctions

Lest anyone doubt the strength of the entrepreneurial spirit in Texas, since November the state has raised approximately $2.5 million in revenues through the auction of about 33,000 specialty license plates (of a new 7-letter variety) via a 5-year contract with auctioneer My Plates that guarantees the state $25 million over the deal, after revenue sharing with various charities, according to the Dallas Morning News:

Darryl Roberts, a dedicated Longhorns fan from Weatherford, spent $10,500 for a GO HORNS license plate the highest bid for a college-themed plate at the state's specialty tag auction Thursday night. [...]

Roberts was among the 400 people who turned out for Texas' first-ever auction of 33 specialty license plates at Cowboys Stadium. The event was coordinated by My Plates, a private contractor that produces personalized tags and shares the revenue with the state. [...]

Top dollar was fetched for FERRARI at $15,000, the biggest sale of the night to a donor who declined to be interviewed.COWBOYS, another big sale, roped in $11,500. Most plates raked in about $2,000. [...]

Auction organizers hoped the high-profile event featuring appearances by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, tours of the locker room and a Ford Mustang car show would spur Texas' specialty plate market, which lags behind most states.

From November 2009 through the first week of this month, My Plates has sold more than 33,000 plates, nearly a third in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In that time, more than $2.5 million in revenue has gone to the state's general fund.

My Plates' contract guarantees $25 million to the state in five years. Some lawmakers and DMV board members have expressed concern that the company may fall short of its financial target but My Plates says it will make that goal. [...]

The plates are good for 25 years and can be resold legally. Proceeds were shared on a sliding scale between My Plates and the state, and five charities, including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, also took home a portion of My Plates' share.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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