April 15th, 2006

State Selling Ads to Offset Cost of BMV Renewal Letters

By Patrick Guinane
Northwest Indiana Times

Your vehicle registration is about to expire. And, while we have your attention, how about a new car loan?

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is paring back the cost of mailing annual renewal notices by selling ad space, with three firms signed up so far.

“The advertising started last year and it helps to offset the cost of mailing the renewals, what we call courtesy reminders,” said Julie Fletcher, a BMV spokeswoman.

State Farm Bank offers vehicle loans, mortgages and home equity loans in a two-sided flier sent to all Hoosier motorists whose license plate stickers are about to expire. The BMV also OK’d a flier from National Administrative Solutions Corp., an Ohio-based company that sells extended vehicle warranties.

Drivers in northern Indiana received an additional offer from a local Chevrolet dealer.

The ads saved taxpayers $151,000 last year, Fletcher said. About a third of the take went to Allison Payment Systems, an Indianapolis company hired in late 2004 to mail the BMV notices and solicit advertisers.

The contract with Allison Payment Systems cost $1.3 million last year, but all but $300,000 of that paid for postage, Fletcher said. The contract is a pilot program that expires in November. The company is credited with decreasing the number of notices returned undelivered.

The contract predates the administration of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, but seems to mesh with his penchant for public-private partnerships. The largest of those efforts, a 75-year private lease of the Indiana Toll Road, is set to take effect in July, though two lawsuits attempting to block the $3.8 billion deal were filed this week.

Earlier this year, officials pointed out that the lease does not include naming rights, meaning the state could one day attach a corporate emblem to the 157-mile east-west expressway. The state has said no such plans are in the works.

On another front, the Daniels administration has been aggressive in soliciting corporate contributions to finance state economic development efforts. During Daniels’ 16 months as governor, a nonprofit associated with the Indiana Economic Development Corp. has taken in just more than $1 million, with much of the money coming from utility companies, including NIPSCO.

The contributions covered about $250,000 in expenses from Daniels’ Asian trade mission last summer and will help defray a return trip this June, said Weston Sedgewick, spokesman for the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

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