Organizers of auction of Cape & Islands plates hope to raise more than $300,000 for economic development efforts in the region.
When the first Cape Cod and Islands license plates were sold 13 years ago, Paul Rumul had no idea that they would eventually generate about $1.3 million a year to help economic development in the region.
But now Rumul, the chairman of the Cape and Islands license plate marketing committee, is preparing to test the popularity of the plates by auctioning off plates with the numbers 1 through 999 on them.
The auction will begin on July 8 and continue through Aug. 1 via his organization’s Web site, Rumul said. He said he hopes the committee, which is run by volunteers, can raise between $300,000 and $500,000.
Rumul said the committee is holding an online auction for the plates instead of a live auction to reach as many potential bidders as possible. He said the committee is spending nearly $70,000 to market the auction through radio, print and Internet ads. The ads are also aimed at drawing attention to the overall sales of the license plates.
The minimum bids for plates with numbers 1 through 9 would be $10,000, Rumul said. The minimum bids would drop to $1,000 for plates with numbers from 10 through 99. Three-digit plates would have minimum bids of $150.
The money will be distributed to the same organizations that receive money from the regular sales of the license plates: The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, Barnstable County’s Cape Cod Economic Development Council, the Lower Cape Cod Community Development Corp., and the county commissioners on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
The recipients use the money to support economic development programs, such as the tourist information center off Route 6 or downtown revitalization efforts.
Daniel Dray, an administrator with Barnstable County’s economic development council, praised the online auction concept.
“It’s a great idea to build some excitement about the plate program as well as an opportunity to get some education out there for how the funds have been used and to generate additional revenue for worthy projects,” Dray said.
Rumul said revenues from the Cape and Islands plates, which feature a picture of the Nauset lighthouse in Eastham, have averaged more than $1.3 million a year in initial sign-up and renewal fees for the past four years. To keep a Cape and Islands plate, motorists need to pay an extra $50 every two years on top of their $35 registration renewal fee charged by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
“Most people have a great affinity for Cape Cod and the Islands, no matter where they live in the state,” said Rumul, the chief operating officer for the Davenport Companies in Yarmouth. “We think part of the success is that every penny comes back to the Cape and Islands, so people feel (like they’re) a part of it.”
Jon Chesto may be reached at email@example.com.