Auto policy

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Batesville car dealership representatives Johnny Rudd (left) of Wheel Center and Keith Goodwin of Stanley’s Used Cars listen as fellow car dealer Boyce Crowell describes an automobile sales ordinance to Batesville aldermen. Olive Branch and Hernando have adopted the ordinance to restrict car sales, Crowell said. The Panolian photo by John Howell Sr.

Auto policy would mirror other cities

By John Howell Sr.

The restrictions sought by Batesville auto dealers — banning auto sales by individuals from parking lots and curbsides — are modeled on policies that have been adopted in several surrounding municipalities, including Olive Branch and Hernando.

Representatives of E-Z Auto Sales, Wheel Center LLC and Stanley’s Used Cars asked city aldermen at their Tuesday, Feb. 1, meeting to pass a similar ordinance in Batesville. E-Z Auto Sales owner Boyce Crowell said that lack of restrictions allows out-of-town and out-of-state wholesalers to place vehicles for sale in parking lots as though the vehicles are being offered by an individual. To circumvent state law prohibiting wholesale dealers from selling to individual buyers, the vehicle purchase that begins along a Batesville roadside is completed and titled through an out-of-town retail dealer, Crowell said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The Olive Branch ordinance, adopted in the DeSoto municipality by unanimous vote of its aldermen in 2004, prohibits a business or individual from displaying or offering for sale vehicles “on any street, curb, lot or other property … unless the City has issued a privilege license …,” the ordinance states. It covers all vehicles from autos to jet skis.

The ordinance does not prohibit, “the sale of a single privately owned, properly licensed vehicle by the owner from the drive of the owner’s private residence,” the ordinance language continues.

Also not prohibited by the Olive Branch ordinance is “the placement of a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window of a single, privately owner, properly licensed vehicle by the owner while the vehicle is being driven and parked in the city, …” it states, “… so long as the vehicle does not remain parked in a public parking place overnight.”

The language of the Hernando ordinance is similar.

The car dealers told the mayor and aldermen that unregulated sales are a pocketbook issue, both for themselves and the city.

Retail dealers collect five percent sales tax on a vehicle; 18 percent of that is reimbursed to the city, Crowell reminded city officials. There is no reimbursement to the city on auto sales between individuals or through wholesalers posing as individuals, he added.

“A person that has no overhead or has no worry about taxes … they can sell the car for little of nothing,” Keith Goodwin of Stanley’s Auto Sales said. “Then they come look at your lot; … and you’re way too high. They’re selling cars for free; they can afford to do that,” he continued.

Crowell said that retail dealers are required to display a buyer’s guide that states whether the vehicle is sold with or without warranty. Retail dealers are also required to operate from a permanent lot with signage, become a designated agent with bond and liability coverage, he added.

“Individuals I think do have a right to advertise and sell their own vehicles, but not necessarily where everybody sees them when they drive through town,” Crowell said.