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Fairfax tries again to create its own license plates

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Local,Virginia,Taylor Holland

Fairfax County officials will try again to create their own county-themed license plates after their first attempt a decade ago proved a dud with residents.

Officials say they're hoping to re-create the success of Fairfax City, where Mayor Scott Silverthorne said its custom plates have raised about $5,000 for the preservation and restoration of historical sites each year since they were first introduced in 2001.

But before county officials can follow in the city's foot steps, they must presell 350 plates to show the state Department of Motor Vehicles that they'll be profitable, something the county failed to achieve in its first attempt in 1999.

County Supervisor Pat Herrity, R-Springfield, who launched the most recent effort, said he's confident the state's largest municipality will succeed this time around.

"I think we'll be very successful," Herrity said. "We've already seen a good response to it so far."

The Fairfax plates would feature the county seal and cost $25, of which $15 from each sale and annual renewal would be given to the county, Herrity said.

He said he expects the plate program to take off because the county has evolved, both in terms of development and pride, since its previous attempt at creating plates. Herrity even estimates the county can raise as much as $250,000 if its sales are as successful as those in Fairfax City, which sold 350 plates to 22,549 residents.

But Supervisor John Cook, R-Braddock, who said he supports the program and the community pride it could create, doubts it will a "big moneymaker."

"It'll be great to help out," Cook said, "but I don't look at license plates to be a revenue producer of any recognizable sort."

The money raised through the program would be given to Visit Fairfax to assist with the cost of hosting the 2015 World Police and Fire Games, Herrity said, noting that the cause itself would help sell license plates.

"This is a great opportunity to get the word out even more, and in alternative means, of the great things to see, do and experience in Fairfax County," Visit Fairfax CEO Barry Biggar said. "It's really a great opportunity to show pride in our home."

tholland@washingtonexaminer.com

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