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Loudoun County to further study windshield decal issue

Loudoun County will not do away with its windshield tax decal program just yet.

After discussing the issue this week with Treasurer Roger Zurn, who favors the decades-long program, Loudoun supervisors voted unanimously to have county staff conduct further research on the current program and find potential enforcement and revenue issues.

Once the research is complete, county staff will report its findings to the board’s finance committee and make additional recommendations.

“You’d be surprised the incentive people have to make the payment on time in order to get that decal,” Zurn told supervisors, warning that disbanding the program could impact the county’s ability to collect personal property taxes.

The county has used the $25 decals since the 1980s as a way to serve as indicators to determine if local residents were up to date on their personal property taxes. In recent years, however, a number of jurisdictions have been eliminating the decals and opted for a license fee.

Nearly 30 years since the program’s inception, some supervisors wondered whether there were any alternative to the decals.

“Why can’t we … link tax payments to the license plate database, so that we don’t need the stickers,” Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At-Large) asked, adding that she knew other counties were using the database and that the technology existed.

In order to enforce the decal program, the county since 1997 has had two sheriff’s deputies patrol the   county at night and look for those who might be dodging their personal property taxes and not registering their vehicles. The county spends $275,000 on their salaries in addition to one part time administrative position.

According to the county, Loudoun has one of the highest collection rates in the commonwealth of 99 percent. The current fiscal year revenue from decals is expected to be $7 million.

Randall asked if, considering the current shortfalls in the sheriff's office, if so-called Project Fairness was a “good use of money, time and resources.”

Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), who chairs the board's finance committee, wondered how the county knew it was collecting 99 percent of its ratio if they don’t know how many vehicles are garaged in the county.

“It’s the vehicles that aren’t known that I’m the most concerned about,” Letourneau said. “And I haven’t been able to think of a way better than decals to deal with.”

Letourneau said the board, Zurn and the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department needed more time to discuss potential alternatives to the decals.

“There are all sorts of internal things here other than just getting rid of the decal program or keeping it,” Letourneau said. “There’s the question of who should be doing it or do we need to have deputies? Could we hire individuals that are closer to what they refer to as parking enforcement individuals to do this work?”

Comments


I have never been clear on why I am required to pay $25 to prove that I have paid my taxes. The burden should be on the county to prove that a person has not paid, not the other way around.


There are multiple MD tagged cars that live in my neighborhood and plenty with VA tags but no decal.  What exactly are the 2 officers tasked with locating these cars doing, exactly?  What are their results?  We would be better served by having these officers enforce other laws while letting a CPU and accountant take care of property tax issues.  The decals are pointless.


seems like a better use of the $275,000. would be to hire several more auditors to check that the real estate property tax assessments are up-to-date and equitable.  I’ll bet Loudoun County is losing far more revenue on real estate than on cars.


I’ll say it again, amply demonstrated by our scofflaw friend Everett—by relying on the decals for enforcement, you encourage people to maintain out of state registration.  Unless a very observant officer notices the same car in the same neighborhood with Florida plates for an extended period of time, they are likely to beat the system.  The decals actually encourage the Everetts of the world to continue cheating. 

BTW, Ev, thanks for not chipping in for all those services you use in Loudoun that I and my neighbors have to pay extra for because of cheaters like you.


$275,000 for the salaries of 2 cops?!?! That is like $137,500 per cop. Even if that includes benefits like health insurance and paid time off that is excessive.

These 2 cops will never catch me !!! I moved to Loudoun 10 years ago and maintain MD registration and plates when I moved from my parents house in Bethesda.  Why wont they catch me??? .....I park my cars in my 2 car garage overniht. My wife was not so lucky…she has lived here most of her life.


To see how well an alternate system would work, do the two sheriff’s deputies that patrol the county at night have license plate scanners installed and linked to the property tax database? Also, judging from my very limited observation, what about the approximate 1 out of 30 cars that have Maryland (or other out of state) plates late at night?


Let’s see, DMV will not renew tags if your emissions is not up to date.  How do they know that?  YES, via computer database.  They don’t need a state treasurer to monitor this.

I’ll bet Roger Zurn still uses an abacus to count those pennies.  Yes, he is small minded and should step aside for progress.


I’m stunned there is bureaucratic lethargy in Loudoun—next thing you know, you’ll be telling me there is too much residential development and a bloated school budget.  The decals are a small-minded person’s answer to an easy problem—getting people to pay their personal property taxes.  Use a database, send threatening letters, deny county services to scofflaws…this isn’t hard.  Frankly, since those who seek to avoid the tax can do so by keeping out of state registration that means no one is looking for the the decal, the decal system actually makes it EASIER to dodge the tax.


The $25 decal fee is a way to tax people without calling it a tax. Loudoun county ought to be sued for incorrect classification. Here is why it is a tax:
- You are force to pay for the sticker.
- It is the cost of sticker plus enforcement. Well, why are county enforcement costs not being called a tax? Isn’t the cost of cops on the road with radar guns to enforce speed called a tax?

This would be “Day light robbery” in a different era.


It’s not worth the hassle for a lousy $25.  When you figure the administrative cost, plus the cost of personal time there is less than zero benefit….


This decal thing has always been crazy.  Let’s call it what it is: Loudoun County requires that you glue a tax receipt to your windshield.

With patrol cars driving around and surreptitiously scanning license plates all day long, there’s already a way to catch tax scofflaws. 

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