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Loudoun supervisors likely to scrap county’s vehicle decal program

Loudoun County residents may not have to deal with those pesky vehicle decals much longer.

The Loudoun Board of Supervisor’s finance committee this week recommended the board get rid of the decades-long vehicle decal program by next July.

The board’s latest move follows direction they gave county staff at the start of the year to work with the treasurer and sheriff to research issues related to enforcement of and revenue from the decal program.

Eliminating the decal program gained further traction after longtime supporter of the decals, Treasurer Roger Zurn (R), recommended the county do way with the program last month because his office is looking into adding the county’s towns to the billing and collection system.

If the county takes over billing and collections for local towns' taxes, Zurn said the county would also be taking on roughly 59,560 new personal property accounts and 20,462 parcels -- a feat he said would make it impossible for the county to continue the decal program.

“We’ve done a great job in terms of administering the decals,” Zurn at a Board of Supervisors public hearing late last month. “It’s not an easy process ... to add roughly 60,000 accounts ... that makes it an absolute administrative nightmare that we just cannot handle.”

Previously, the county believed getting rid of the decals would result in as much as a $5.6 million revenue loss. However, county staff say that by cutting out the $430,000 in annual costs it takes to administer the decals and run Project Fairness -- the operation that uses two sheriff’s deputies to enforce the decal program -- the revenue loss will be much less, even as low as $1 million.

According to county staff, Project Fairness cites anywhere from 12,000 to 12,800 vehicles annually and brings in about $100,000 in fines. They say the program also recovered $60,000 in license fee revenue and $897,000 in vehicle personal property tax revenue in fiscal 2016.

Commissioner of the Revenue Bob Wertz (R) told members of the finance committee he believed his office could potentially do more enforcement work around vehicle taxes in the event the county scraps Project Fairness. Wertz said his office maintains an effective tip line of neighbors and other sources that inform them about adding vehicles to their tax roll.

Wertz’s assurances on other mechanisms of enforcement put the finance committee at ease, and members expressed confidence in finding an alternative to Project Fairness and the decal program.

“We would need to maintain a robust tip line, we need some visibility, project fairness has some visibility, now people are aware of it,” Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), chair of the finance committee, said. “We would need to maintain a program like that in some capacity whether it resides in [the Commissioner of Revenue’s] office or in county administration or what … even without decals and even without Project Fairness.”

The committee voted unanimously to recommend not only scraping the decal program, but also converting the vehicle decal fee to a $25 vehicle license fee requirement. They also asked commissioner of the revenue and county staff to devise a plan to continue enforcement of vehicle registration and personal property tax collection.

A vote on the decal program is likely to take place at the board’s July 20 business meeting.

“The bottom line for me is that [the decal program] is an annual pain in the rear for everybody in the county, and I do put a value on people’s time, and I think they would appreciate it if we got rid of this for them,” Supervisor Tony Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) said. “I think that we could do it without costing the county too much money in revenue, and if we find out down the road that it is costing us money and revenue, then we could maybe bump up … the license fee and make up for it.”


Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or on Twitter at @sydneykashiwagi.

Comments


John M…haha. I am with you…no matter how hard I try I never get it straight to match the safety sticker…If we are going to join the 21st century, how about VA coordinating the safety inspection with the emissions test? I am tired of going to the service station twice…once for the safety inspection and again for the emissions test! Link them up VA!!! I think the reason I was given is that one is administered by the VA State Police and one by DMV!! Get together!!


Hello…it’s 2017. Maybe Loudoun can catch up to other counties in different states. In NC, your license tag is tied to emission testing and taxes.  If the taxes are not paid or you skip on the emission’s test, you will not receive your registration notice. This is how the police will know. We don’t need an outdated sticker program. We just need to catch up to other states that have scraped all stickers, including emission’s test, on the front windshield.


Skyprince, you can just put your own Loudoun County sticker on your car. Problem solved.

The added benefit of not having the sticker is my OCD will get a bit of a break! Whenever I put my stickers on my cars I spend way too much time making sure they are perfectly straight!


The stickers are meaningless. I once didn’t pay my tax bill for 3 months and not once did I get stopped by the Sheriff’s office. Instead I received warning letters to pay up and then in the 3rd month, I got a letter that said to either pay up or we’ll get a court order to zap your paycheck. 

Given the ability to track accounts payable with computers and enforce it with legal judgements, we have no reason use stickers that are only enforced by 2 deputies.


“How in the world will they know who has paid the annual tax?”

How in the world do we know that you have PAID YOUR FEDERAL AND STATE INCOME TAXES?

We could cover most of the cost of Medicare if people STOP CHEATING on their taxes!


Finally, maybe I can get that pesky little deceitful politicians name off my cars.


Classic government at work. We’ll get rid of the hated stickers—oh, but we’ll keep the fee. And then, “we’ll beef up the tip line.” What good is a tip line? What are people going to report? “My neighbor got a new car. He hasn’t let me know that he’s paid his car tax AND his extra “license fee” so I’m calling to report him.” With decals, there is a way to know if your neighbor is a scofflaw. Without, and you can be sure the only calls to the tip line will be people with grudges.

That kind of thinking fits right in with taxing our taxes, which is exactly what the decal fee is, whatever you call it.


That is too bad. I will miss it. When travelling having a Loudoun sticker on my car has created a number of nice conversations around the country when I spotted another LoCo sticker. They were always so nice and colorful. How in the world will they know who has paid the annual tax?

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