The Town did discuss eliminating the decal but the County Treasurer opposed this and required all vehicles within the County to have a physical decal.
– By Valerie Cury
The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in late July to get rid of the required County vehicle decals, keeping the annual $25 licensing fee. The annual vehicle decal fee, which could increase to $30, will still remain as a license fee and will be implemented July 1 2018 (FY19). The County will also start the process to take on the tax billing and collection of personal property and real property taxes for the towns of Leesburg, Lovettsville, Hillsboro and Round Hill.
The Town of Purcellville has had a permanent vehicle decal for residents of the Town. In 2008, it was changed from an annual decal to a permanent one. The Town did discuss eliminating the decal but the County Treasurer opposed this and required all vehicles within the County to have a physical decal. If the Town eliminated the decal, the County would have billed for it and kept the revenue for itself. Now that the County has eliminated the decal requirement, the Town of Purcellville can pursue eliminating it as well.
At the BOS July 11 Finance/Government Operations and Economic Development Committee Meeting, Supervisor Ralph M. Buona (R-Ashburn) said, “I would not want to be on the Purcellville Town Council because when their residents figure out they are the only people in the County with a decal on their windshield they are coming out with pitchforks. I would.”
Supervisor Tony R. Buffington Jr. (R-Blue Ridge) referring to the Town decal said, “I am getting ready to move to the Town of Purcellville and I am already upset about it.”
All Town residents receive tax bills from both the County and their respective Town and have different due dates. Commissioner of the Revenue, Robert S. Wertz Jr., said that the adoption process would require a uniform process and procedures by the Towns. For the participating Towns, their residents will receive one bill for both the County and Town taxes.
One Tax Bill
For the County to take over the tax billing for the Towns legislation would have to pass the General Assembly, specific to Loudoun County, to allow the County to implement the new billing system. Currently, no other jurisdiction in Virginia does this. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Towns would have to be negotiated as well.
County Treasurer H. Roger Zurn, said, “This will be a major undertaking.” The County would incur expenses to implement the program and the Towns would pay an annual fee for the billing service of one percent, 1.25 percent, or it could potentially go higher – as indicated in the July 11 Board business meeting.
Clark Case, Director of Finance and Administrative Services for the Town of Leesburg, said that the County taking over Leesburg’s billing would save the Town money and it is efficient. This was echoed by Hillsboro Mayor Roger Vance. Round Hill Mayor Scott Ramsey said that he would like to wait and see. He wanted to make sure the agreement has safeguards, a back-out clause and a guarantee on the cost.
The Town of Purcellville made a large investment in Munis software several years ago. One of the tax modules included a $50,000 financial software that may provide tax efficiencies to billing. Several members of the Town Council wanted to see what savings could be gained from this new software system and observe the success of the County consolidation before making that leap. Also, the Town provides customer service to its residents and if the County were to take over the Town’s billing Purcellville residents would have to go to the County with questions or visit a County office.