Tuesday, the BOCS voted to do away with the county decal in a 7-1 vote. The dissenting vote belonged to Supervisor Marty Nohe. Before everyone starts clapping, residents will still have to pay the fee, they just won’t be putting the county emblem on the car signifying that they have paid the $24 fee.

From the News and Messenger Manassas:

Supervisor Martin Nohe, R-Coles, was the lone naysayer. He wasn’t satisfied finance officials had presented a workable plan to combat the dilemma now facing the landfill, which uses the decals as a wave-through acceptance of county residency to those trying to dump trash. Concerns are that traffic will back up as landfill visitors will now have to show drivers’ licenses to prove in-county residency — or even worse could occur, if landfill workers bypass these checks.

“If we eliminate the decal, we open the door to out-of-county landfill users,” said Joan Moon, with the Landfill Citizens Oversight Committee, during the public hearing on the issue.

Eliminating the decal saves the county $135,300 per year in production and mail costs, according to documents to the board. But that’s not the same as what the county collects from the motor vehicle tax, which contributes millions of dollars to the general fund, Supervisor Frank Principi, D-Woodbridge, clarified.

Had the supervisors not voted to discontinue the decal, they would have had to amend the fiscal 2010 budget. The budget approved April 28 did not include funding for the decals.


Most of the concern seems to be about the landfill: the dreaded landfill poacher. How will we ensure than only legal residents use the landfill? Perhaps a drivers’ license might just do the trick. Some folks have old decals on their windshield because they don’t come off without sandbasting.

Back in the old days, the county sticker used to be an indicator of who had paid their personal property tax. You didn’t pay your taxes, you didn’t get a county sticker. It was all pretty cut and dry. What about those who try to save a buck and avoid county taxes?

How will local police know who has and has not paid their county fee? I can remember getting pinched a few times for not having that sticker. Will police computer lines tie in to who has been naughty and who has been nice? How about running a line from our license plate to who has paid the sticker and who hasn’t? Will that be done?

How many people will not purchase a ticket and hope they just don’t get caught. I honestly don’t think the county should be relying on the honor system on this one.

43 Thoughts to “No More County Decals!”

  1. Rick Bentley

    This is idiotic. Newcomers will now have no reason to ever start paying the County. Including our tens of thousands of friends from down past our Southern Border.

    But I’m sure everything will work if we just do it this way :

    A. Go by the honor system for a few years, until many more people are living here but not paying
    B. Declare an Amnesty for everyone who didn’t pay, and ask them to pay
    C. If they still aren’t paying, declare a second Amnesty
    D. If necessary declare another Amnesty but charge a $5 fine for anyone who wants to pay it
    E. Just start giving decals away to anyone who doesn’t want to pay, at taxpayers’ expense
    F. Send flyers around Mexico in Spanish explaining to future County residents that they don’t have to pay if they don’t have to

  2. Rick Bentley

    G. Ensure that if one person manages to get away without paying, and they have children on American soil, their children don’t ever have to pay.
    H. Allow all relatives of anyone who got away without paying to never pay.
    I. Fund an organization like CASA in Maryland to explain, in Spanish, to anyone who will listen that all individuals have the right not to pay as long as they went at least one year without paying. Also, distribute this information along with Spanish versions of the Drivers Lisence test.
    J. Ensure that any attempts to enforce decal purchasing affects each ethnic demographic equally – for example, no Latino person could be prosecuted for not purchasing a decal if doing so would create an “inequality” in terms of prosecution by ethnicity. label any such prosecution “racial profiling”, and use government funds to explain this to Spanish speakers – either on the Spanish version of the drivers License test or on the Spanish printouts (or telephone messages) sent to parents by our public schools. And, ensure that a battery of ACLU lawyers actively monitors the situation.

    I call this the Reagan/Kennedy/McCain/Clinton/Obama solution.

  3. Second-Alamo

    I think this will increase the cost of enforcement even though it lowers the cost of decal distribution. Before if you didn’t have a current decal it was obvious, and I believe you could be stopped by the police (?), but now there is no fear of that happening. The substitute for the enforcement that the decal automatically provided will be bill collectors trying to get the non-payers to pay up. This will cost big time in lost tax revenues also, not to mention the cost of sending multiple bills to those not paying or late paying.

  4. The less taxes we have to pay, the better. I can’t believe they approved. Someone must have spiked their water.

  5. Gainesville Resident

    About time! I hate hate hate scraping that thing off and putting on new one. Or, at least City of Manassas decals were a pain to get off. My new PWC decal maybe seems to have less sticky glue on it – maybe different formulation than city stickers? Anyway, to me, hurray!!!

  6. Gainesville Resident

    I do however see the points Rick and SA are saying, and I have to say, as much as I hate the yearly process of changing the sticker, their points are very well taken and i agree with them.

  7. Gainesville Resident

    Well, reading between the lines, I THINK I agree with Rick, let’s put it that way!

  8. Moon-howler

    Yes, they could stop you for not having one. Been there, done that.

    GR, I hate, hate hate scraping them off too…so badly that I have 3 on my windshield now.

    I think we will lose revenue.

  9. Alanna

    Wait, we still have to pay, but there’s no sticker on the car to prove that we have paid. Also, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but you only get a sticker after you have paid the property tax on the vehicle, right? This is one of those rare occassions where I am in agreement with “SA”. Additionally, there’s the land-fill concern mentioned in the article by Supervisor Nohe. What am I missing? Why was this passed, to save $135,000?

  10. Thumper

    Seems stupid we’ve been wasting all that money on decals when it’s easier to just run a report and spit out the names of people who haven’t paid. Won’t take as much money to do that than it will to waste our cops’ time pulling people over for a sticker offense.

    Besides, if someone doesn’t pay, I’m sure they could come up with some other punishment–like more fees for being late and a mark on their registration or something like that. And obviously, if they do get pulled over for something else, they will have the mark against them and be turned in to the tax police.

  11. Poor Richard

    Please note the AWSMA is opposed to this action! Another stupid
    vote, in the middle of a recession, that will hurt local retail
    business and add to our unemployment lines. Shame on the BOCS,
    except wise Mr.Nohe.

  12. food for thought

    The local license fee (decal fee) is paid along with the personal property tax and the county tracks it through DMV and other state records. The decal is sent out annually at the same time as the bill–so you get your decal even if you ultimately do not pay. Now, there will simply be a bill–no decal. About two years ago, the Board was scheduled to get rid of the decal, but decided not to based on the landfill issue. I guess the economy has gotten worse and it was worth it to save the $135,000 or whatever it was.

    There will not be a problem in terms of collection of the fees (according to the county staff), but how this affects the landfill issue remains to be seen. I think that was what Nohe was concerned about…

  13. Rick Bentley

    Hey – if someone doesn’t pay for a sticker – should it impact their children’s right to drive that car? Surely not.

  14. Rick Bentley

    or to use the landfill for that matter.

  15. Witness Too

    How about this? Instead of the stickers, the county sends letters to people saying that they haven’t paid, that fines and interest will accrue if they don’t pay by a certain date, and that it will be added to their tax bill at the end of the year anyway? Amazing how we are all pro-tax at heart to the point where we find ourselves strategizing on how to collect them. In other parts of the country, people want to succeed from the Union over a tax hike on the wealthiest 2 percent of earners.

  16. Poor Richard

    Anyone remember the pre-sticker metal plates that Manassas
    used? You bolted them to the bottom of your state license

  17. Gainesville Resident

    Yes Poor Richard! I noticed those bolted on thin strips on the license plates around Manassas when I first moved down here in 1981! Some people still had them on their cars. I know when I moved into city in 1983 they were already on decals (I lived in PWC first 2 years in apartment).

    Thanks for explaning that, had forgotten them – but now remember seeing them from time to time in first few years I was here. Very interesting piece of Manassas “hsitory trivia”.

  18. Gainesville Resident

    WT – your post #16 sounds like good plan to me. Very simple to implement, it would seem. Only costs money to crank out letters for violators. Computers can do that so no real labor involved other than to set up program to do so with form letter.

  19. Rick Bentley

    “Instead of the stickers, the county sends letters to people saying that they haven’t paid, that fines and interest will accrue if they don’t pay by a certain date, and that it will be added to their tax bill at the end of the year anyway?”

    Do you think that everyone driving here pays tax to the County?

  20. Witness Too

    @ Rick Bentley
    Wait, I thought only county residents had to pay the sticker tax. Are you saying that people who commute to PWC or drive through it also have to have the sticker? If you want to get those people I think you’ll need to advocate for a toll road a la Dulles.

  21. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    No more stickers??? Cool with me!

  22. Rick Bentley

    No, I meant to say :

    Do you think everyone living in PWC who owns a car pays tax to the County?

  23. Witness Too

    I see. You’re saying a lot of people don’t own property and thus don’t pay property taxes, and the sticker tax is the only way to get people who rent apartments for instance. Gotcha.

  24. Rick Bentley

    Yes – or who rent rooms or small cubicles in flophouses, as was the case with my neighborhood’s townhouses in recent past.

  25. Moon-howler

    If you have a bad track record with the county they used to make you pay first, then they mailed a decal.

  26. michael

    LOL, Rick that “spoof” on “illegal” immigration amnesty and forgiveness sentiment is too funny!

  27. michael

    I agree with Moon, we will definately loose revenue, because many “legal” and “illegal” people will simply refuse to pay and then assume they will never get caught. They will challenge the obligation and wait until someone is forced to “fine” them, “if” they can locate them.

    I really think we have an epedemic of dishonesty in this nation and a rampant attitude to not obey the law or be held accountable to honest actions and obligations. I believe this is a direct consequence of “cultural” drift and external “cultural influence” from people who come from countries where law enforcement is corrupt and lawbreaking is wide-spread.

  28. michael

    Alanna, amazingly I also agree with you too, I’m am very pleased we think alike on at least this sensible topic. Its a shame we will save a small amount of money until someone actually calculates the tax revenue we will lose because people will stop paying (especially if you can’t find them or their residence listed anywhere), and will not be under the “threat” of being stopped by police that was realy a deterrent for many people to make them pay their taxes on time.

  29. michael

    I actually saw a LOT of people in MY neighborhood who “loosely stuck” their sticker on the windshield, and then traded it with others who did not have it, before they drove cars that had out of state and in state plates, but no stickers. This was probably in about 10% of the cars parked in my neighborhood, I noticed this “technique” to avoid pullovers.

  30. michael

    Witness, how ’bout them Texans?…stupid of them huh? I agree with you, there may be other ways to collect the taxes, but we might have to go “door” to “door”.

  31. michael

    The county landfill can solve this by charging everyone a fee to use the landfill. This is what I do when I use another counties landfill, I simpoly pay the “commercial fee” per ton. Out of state trucks do this all the time.

  32. Lafayette

    We pay a solid waste fee on our real estate taxes. So, why do you think we should pay a second time at the gate to the landfill?

    If you don’t pay your personal property tax notice is sent to DMV, and you can’t renew your license, tags or any other business with DMV until the county has been paid for personal property taxes. This definately helps keep the deliquency level down. However, I must say there are quite a few out of state plates around. I seriously doubt these are students and/or active military.

  33. Thumper

    Lafayette, you can only keep out-of-state plates for so long before you get caught. You’re supposed to renew them within 6 months or something like that.

  34. Rebecca

    It helps to keep those out of state tags if you are related to a red circle. Rule of Law must be the air of protection.

  35. Poor Richard

    The stickers also have the unintended benefit of being helpful in
    market research. Walk several minutes in a store parking lot
    and note the jurisdictions that shoppers come from – not precise,
    but of value. Governments also do this – parking lot surveys
    to “eye-ball” surveys on commuter routes. The new bridge planned
    over the RR racks on Rt.28 south of Old Town, is in Manassas City,
    but a sticker count will show most of the vehicles are
    from PWC, Fauquier, and other counties.

  36. Lafayette

    I believe you only have 30 days to register your vehicle with the county and the Commonwealth. I simply don’t see this happening with all vehicles around town. There’s also cars with no tags at all.

  37. Lucky Duck

    Lafayette, you’re correct in that new residents have 30 days to transfer registration of their cars to Virginia. However, we have an unusually large military population (as well as temporary government contractors) in this area so that may account for some of the out of state tags on cars in the area. Military members may keep their home state registrations and county tags were sold for $1 to military families.

    There is no excuse for cars without tags. Call the police department’s inoperable vehicle unit and they will tag them and then tow them if not moved within a specific period of time.

  38. Moon-howler

    What happens to those cars on private property, Lucky Duck?

  39. Lafayette

    Lucky Duck-
    Thank you. They most definately do tag those vehicles. There was one truck here in WestGate a couple of years ago that was tagged, and the jokers would park it on a different street every night. Not to mention the car was actually registered to a Yorkshire address, and the tags had been expired for three years. Well, that little game only went on for about two weeks. I truly don’t think the military/student exemption applies to the out of state plates I’ve seen.

  40. Lucky Duck

    Those on private property are also subjected to being towed. It is against county code to have abandoned or inoperable vehicles in subdivisions. If the vehicle is on private property and off the street, the police will obtain a search warrant for the vehicle in order to remove it – after notifying the owner and giving them the opportunity to get it running or removed.

  41. Lafayette

    I’ve always turned them into Zoning when they are on private property. I have seen an instance or two where the PD did have to get involved the removal of the vehicles. I can’t imagine that’s cheap. I spotted four easily on my way to the courthouse today. I’ll be turning them over to PCE for starters, and PCE might even spot some other zoning infraction at the same time.

  42. Gainesville Resident

    Point of Woods in Manassas is full of cars with old stickers, no stickers, etc. Easy pickings over there ,but of course we are talking about city and not the county in that case.

  43. Moon-howler

    Laf, I know where you missed a couple. 😉

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