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County sets public hearing on vehicle stickers

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — Carroll supervisors have scheduled a public hearing for their regular June meeting to hear comments on a plan to do away with vehicle decals.

Assistant Administrator Nikki Shank, Finance Director Pam Smith, Treasurer Bonita Williams and Commissioner of Revenue Louise Quesenberry have all met to discuss the best way to end the requirement to put decals in personal vehicles, while still retaining the fee.

County Attorney Jim Cornwell reported on the resulting proposal.

"The first thing to say is we're not increasing the rates..." he began his remarks.

The county is still bound by the Code of Virginia to collect a motor vehicle licensing fee. Carroll County, however, does have the discretion to do away with the windshield sticker, as many localities already have.

"People don't like it — to put it on and take it off," Cornwell said.

While some jurisdictions talk about the stickers as a way to enforce personal property tax payments, Cornwell doesn't believe that's an issue for Carroll. It's really the Department of Motor Vehicles that handles the enforcement.

Carroll officials don't want to make this too complicated, he said. They want to simplify this for the citizens, taxpayers and staff.

The easiest way to do that is to make the license fee applicable with the personal property tax.

Those taxes are due on personal property that was owned Jan. 1, Cornwell said. The license fees are due by Dec. 5 every year.

Citizens will get a bill that documents the vehicles they own — if the information is not up to date in terms of a new car bought or an old car sold or traded, the citizens should correct that.

So the thought is that county officials would add the license fee to the personal property tax bill, he said. Citizens could write one check and send it in.

"You do not have to line the hall to get a decal," Cornwell said. "You do not have to figure out, you know, 'if I buy a car, sell a car, what do I do?'"

The proposal would apply to the same vehicles at the same rate as is done currently, he said.

The license fee applies to cars and trucks ($25 each), motorcycles ($15 each) and trailers ($25 each).

People moving in are supposed to notify the county about what they own. People who buy or sell a car are supposed to notify the DMV.

If you owned a car and bought another, you would owe for two, Cornwell said. If you have a car and trade it, you don't have to pay another fee.

But if you have a car and pay a fee and then sell it, you don't get a refund. There is no proration.

County officials require people to pay personal property taxes before paying this fee, Cornwell said. If a person fails to do that, there will be a block put on their account at the DMV.

If that person tried to get their tags, they could not until they paid the personal property taxes and the county license fee, he said.

Several fee exemptions would continue under this proposal. Fire and rescue volunteers, disabled veterans and prisoner of war veterans do not have to pay the county fee.

Supervisor Tom Littrell had a question, as he is a collector of antique vehicles. Some of his antiques are titled through the state and some, designated as “parts cars,” are not.

Cornwell read that the county fee would not apply to registered antique vehicles. For those not registered with the state, "Then you're going to have to pay."

Supervisor Wes Hurst made the motion to schedule a public hearing for the next monthly meeting, June 8.

"I understand if we adopt it soon we can impose it beginning this year," Cornwell said.

Hillsville Town Council also discussed doing away with the decals at a budget meeting May 11, but decided to hold off to see what the county does, said Town Manager Larry South.