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Hillsville talks vehicle decal fee change

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — The new Carroll County ordinance dealing with vehicle decals could have a monetary effect on Hillsville residents, requiring them to pay more in fees, the town council members discussed at their Monday meeting.

The Carroll Board of Supervisors recently repealed a requirement for vehicles owned by county residents to display a decal on the windshield, though the citizens still have to pay the associated fee.

Carroll's fee is $25 for cars and trucks, and the fee will be paid along with personal property taxes.

It doesn't look like Hillsville will follow suit in doing away with the decal, but they are considering matching the county's vehicle fee.

Council member Orba Alderman said at Monday's meeting that a provision included in the new county ordinance could lead town residents to pay licensing fees — to the county.

It's a little-known fact that the state code allows counties to take any difference between its vehicle license fee and that of a town within its borders, Alderman told The Gazette after the meeting. So if the fee in a town is $15 and the county's is $25, then the county could charge the town residents that $10 difference.

"That's our reconnaissance and our take on it," he said.

The county ordinance states that the vehicle license fee would not be imposed on any vehicle kept in the town limits, provided that the town "imposes a license fee upon such motor vehicles equal to or greater than the license fee imposed by the county."

Carroll's new ordinance goes on to say that "should such town impose a license fee less than the county, upon proof of payment of the same to the town, the owner shall receive a credit on the county license fee for the license fee paid to the town and pay the difference to the county."

So Alderman made a motion to set a public hearing for the July 27 council meeting on increasing its vehicle licensing fee from $15 on cars and trucks to match the county's $25.

The motion was approved unanimously.

Rather than have town residents pay additional fees to the county, Hillsville will look for a way to spare its citizens that charge, Town Manager Larry South explained after the meeting.

"The intent of the increase is not to increase the town revenue," he said. "The intent is to try to get that money back to the taxpayer."

Town officials are still investigating how they can do that, South said. "My guess is some kind of tax credit or rebate."

The proposed town fee increase would also apply to other kinds of vehicles, like motorcycles, for which the town's fee is $7 as compared to the county's $15.

Though the town has considered doing away with the windshield decals, South said it looks like that idea is going to fall by the wayside.