Digging Deeper: Cost of vanity plates in RI

For Kim Ortiz, her Rhode Island vanity plate "CORKY J" has extra special meaning.

It's a mash-up of her kids' names -- Corey, Kyle, and Jacob.

But when the registration fees for the next two years added up to $227.50, it was too much.

Ortiz understands there's an extra fee to pick what goes on her plate, but when she saw that, she decided no more.

"It didn't really hit me until when I opened my bill this time and I saw the dollar amount that they wanted and I said, 'Wow'. It was just astonishing, the dollar amount that I would have to pay now," she said.

NBC 10 discovered the registration fees for vanity plates have not gone up since 2007. But other fees have.

"(The fees) fund the maintenance of our highways and roads, the Highway Maintenance Fund. It's an additional $10 surcharge to the registration fees which began in July," said Tony Silva, administrator at the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles.

So for many, this is the first time they're seeing the registration fees increase for the two-year period. And in July, the Department of Transportation fee goes up to $20.

For households looking at the bottom line, it's decision time.

Before 2007, the annual rate for a vanity plate was $60. After that, it went up $90 per year, by the legislature.

Will the total be enough for the DMV to revisit the vanity plate cost? Silva says no. The number of new vanity plates is roughly 5,500 a year, bringing in nearly $350,000 a year.

"(The vanity plates are) very popular. We have boxes of them downstairs waiting to be picked up," Silva said.