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So far, so good for new county decal system

PULASKI COUNTY — It’s been a year since Pulaski County switched to permanent automobile decals, and, so far, tax collections have not suffered.
However, County Treasurer Melinda Worrell said next year will be the true test of how well the program is going to work.
“We have a 95 percent (tax) collection rate so far because (county residents) had to have their decal,” Worrell told the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors earlier this week. “But next year may be different because they’ll already have their (permanent) decal (in place).”
Of 110 localities surveyed in the state, Worrell said 50 still have annually-replaced decals, 45 charge a registration fee but don’t have a decal, five (including Pulaski County) have a fee and permanent decal, five have a one-time registration fee and one-time decal purchase, and five have “nothing at all.”
While one benefit of requiring annual decals was to monitor payment of local taxes, many areas have started moving away from the decals because they can place “stops” on license plate renewals at Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for those who fail to pay the taxes.
Worrell said the county is now using the DMV stops for those who are delinquent on taxes. Once taxes are up-to-date, she said, the county must notify DMV and pay a $20 fee to have the stop removed, or it will stay on the resident’s record permanently.
The removal fee is passed on to the resident who was delinquent on tax payments.
Worrell acknowledged the DMV stops are time-consuming. She pointed out that her office must track down a resident’s vehicle through DMV to impose a stop if the resident trades to a new vehicle from the one on record with the county.
After providing the update, Worrell said it is time to order decals again, and she needs to know whether to order any, and, if so, how many.
County Administrator Pete Huber recommended the county hold course with the permanent decal program “for now and see how it progresses.”
He said the county needs to start looking at decals as a community identification source rather than as a tax collecting function.
“We can continue to work out the logistics,” he said.
Huber recommended purchasing 4,000 more decals to be used with those left over from last year’s order.
Worrell said she would go ahead and order 5,000. The decals cost 19 cents apiece when 5,000 are ordered and 16 cents each with an order of 10,000.
Last year, rather than eliminate the decal, the county decided to go to a permanent decal in order to assist the towns of Dublin and Pulaski in determining vehicle residency and also to assist with identifying vehicles using the county’s large-item drop centers and landfill.
Utility trailers and motorcycles are not required to display a decal. However, the current vehicle license tax for motorcycles and trailers is being billed to the owner.
Mid-year purchases of decals are prorated on a monthly basis. Vehicle license taxes are billed annually and are due on Oct. 15 along with personal property taxes.

So far, so good for new county decal system

PULASKI COUNTY — It’s been a year since Pulaski County switched to permanent automobile decals, and, so far, tax collections have not suffered.
However, County Treasurer Melinda Worrell said next year will be the true test of how well the program is going to work.
“We have a 95 percent (tax) collection rate so far because (county residents) had to have their decal,” Worrell told the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors earlier this week. “But next year may be different because they’ll already have their (permanent) decal (in place).”
Of 110 localities surveyed in the state, Worrell said 50 still have annually-replaced decals, 45 charge a registration fee but don’t have a decal, five (including Pulaski County) have a fee and permanent decal, five have a one-time registration fee and one-time decal purchase, and five have “nothing at all.”
While one benefit of requiring annual decals was to monitor payment of local taxes, many areas have started moving away from the decals because they can place “stops” on license plate renewals at Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for those who fail to pay the taxes.
Worrell said the county is now using the DMV stops for those who are delinquent on taxes. Once taxes are up-to-date, she said, the county must notify DMV and pay a $20 fee to have the stop removed, or it will stay on the resident’s record permanently.
The removal fee is passed on to the resident who was delinquent on tax payments.
Worrell acknowledged the DMV stops are time-consuming. She pointed out that her office must track down a resident’s vehicle through DMV to impose a stop if the resident trades to a new vehicle from the one on record with the county.
After providing the update, Worrell said it is time to order decals again, and she needs to know whether to order any, and, if so, how many.
County Administrator Pete Huber recommended the county hold course with the permanent decal program “for now and see how it progresses.”
He said the county needs to start looking at decals as a community identification source rather than as a tax collecting function.
“We can continue to work out the logistics,” he said.
Huber recommended purchasing 4,000 more decals to be used with those left over from last year’s order.
Worrell said she would go ahead and order 5,000. The decals cost 19 cents apiece when 5,000 are ordered and 16 cents each with an order of 10,000.
Last year, rather than eliminate the decal, the county decided to go to a permanent decal in order to assist the towns of Dublin and Pulaski in determining vehicle residency and also to assist with identifying vehicles using the county’s large-item drop centers and landfill.
Utility trailers and motorcycles are not required to display a decal. However, the current vehicle license tax for motorcycles and trailers is being billed to the owner.
Mid-year purchases of decals are prorated on a monthly basis. Vehicle license taxes are billed annually and are due on Oct. 15 along with personal property taxes.