Loudoun County to further study windshield decal issue
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?”
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