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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Decal change floated
Permanent sticker idea is proposed

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Henry County Treasurer Scott Grindstaff wants the Henry County Board of Supervisors to consider switching from annual to permanent vehicle decals.

“We will also need to discuss how to make up the revenue” lost if such a change was approved, Grindstaff said at Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting.

County residents pay $20 a year for a windshield decal for each vehicle, including motorcycles and trailers, they own. Grindstaff told the board he is proposing eliminating the decals for motorcycles and trailers and making other vehicle taxes permanent.

Instead of buying one each year — as is the current practice — the decal would be effective for as long as a person owned the vehicle, he said. When a person bought a new vehicle, he would buy a new decal, the treasurer added.

Some localities, such as Martinsville, have eliminated decals, although residents still pay the annual fee. But Henry County residents must have a vehicle decal to use the green box trash sites.

However, few decals were sold in the current calendar year for motorcycles or trailers, Grindstaff said. He noted that motorcycles generally are not used to haul refuse to green box sites, and trailers generally are hooked onto vehicles that have decals anyway.

Currently, decal sales generate $950,000, Grindstaff said. Under his proposal, revenue would drop to about $150,000 annually, for an estimated $800,000 annual loss.

Grindstaff did not propose how that money would be made up, and said it is one of the aspects of the proposal that needs to be discussed.

Still, several reasons prompted him to ask the supervisors to discuss the issue, including the fact that decal sales are time-consuming for his office and typically take the focus off everything else for about four months (March to May) each year.

Currently, his office sells about 25,000 decals; local fire departments sell another 15,000, Grindstaff said. Information about all of those sales must be put into a county database system.

Near the end of June, his staff still was entering that information in the database, he said.

He also noted that 98 of the 141 of localities in Virginia no longer sell decals. Of the 43 that still do, six now sell permanent decals.

Residents must pay their personal property taxes before they can buy an auto decal.

Grindstaff said a majority of residents pay their taxes before decals go on sale, which dispels the idea that the need for decals prompts some residents to pay their taxes.

Grindstaff added that an average of 90 percent of personal property taxes have been paid by the end of February, which is before decals go on sale. While that “may not mean that 90 percent of the people have paid,” it does mean that 90 percent of the taxes have been collected.

In essence, Grindstaff said, “our current use of decals means that 90 percent of our taxpayers have to buy a decal to prove they paid their taxes because 10 percent” of those who owe taxes have not paid by the end of February.


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