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No more scraping–annual decals could be history
In the first few years after I moved to Virginia, my state inspection sticker made a gradual scoot to the right of my windshield. Every year, I’d get my new Lynchburg city decal just a few months before my inspection was due.
Because Lynchburg’s decals were made of paper and some impossible-to-remove adhesive (the plastic ones Fredericksburg uses are much easier to remove), I couldn’t ever get together the tools needed to remove the old sticker before I had to slap the new one on to avoid a citation. Then several weeks later, the mechanic would remove the old one and put the new inspection sticker in its place, so it would still be right next to the city decal.
This whole dance ended when Spotsylvania County got rid of decals, and I had one less thing to gum up my windshield.
For the law-enforcers and fee-collectors in localities that still issue decals, however, the demise of these stickers elsewhere in the state hasn’t been quite as much of a welcome development.
Decals had been used as collection tools, to ensure folks had paid their personal property taxes and what became known as the “decal fee,” a $20 registration fee that is included in the personal property tax bill.
But now that Fredericksburg’s two neighbors have done away with decals, city Treasurer G.M. Haney says, “It’s not a collection tool anymore.” A city police officer can’t assume that a decal-free windshield belongs to a law-breaker. It might just belong to a Spotsylvanian.
Issuing the decal is one of the most labor-intensive jobs in Haney’s office, so if it’s not worthwhile as a collection tool, Haney and Commissioner of the Revenue Lois Jacob are recommending the city do away with it.
They have proposed issuing a permanent decal to folks who still want the city identification on their cars. Some people depend on this to use the Belman Road recycling center and the city-only Virginia Railway Express parking lot.
Haney estimates the city would save about $10,000 a year in postage by not having to mail annual decals, along with other nominal savings in his office.
The $20 “registration fee” would still show up on your personal property tax bill.
And for folks who choose to get a permanent decal, this sticker would have the car’s license number printed on it, so that it couldn’t be passed to someone else. Haney has recommended a hefty fine of $500 for people who try to use it illegally.
If you’ve got something to say about the plan to do away with the annual decal, there’s a public hearing on the idea at tomorrow’s City Council meeting, which starts at 7:30 p.m.