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Decal Contest Finalists Announced

by Katie Pyzyk | December 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm | 1,360 views | No Comments

The finalists have been chosen for Arlington’s annual Decal Design Competition and residents will have the chance to choose a favorite later this week.

The contest is open to all Arlington high school students and a citizens’ panel typically narrows down the entries to four finalists. This year, however, five finalists were named because the voting resulted in a tie.

The winning 2014-2015 decal will be announced at a County Board meeting early next year and will be affixed to about 160,000 car windshields beginning next summer.

Each student included a description of his or her design. Excerpts from each are below:

  • Education is a Virtue — “I think my photograph of the Arlington Education Center and the Planetarium represent Arlington’s important focus on students and education.”
  • Netherlands Carrillon — “To me, Arlington represents community and pride. I wanted to depict something in my photo that brings both to mind for me.”
  • Arlington’s Namesake — “The Arlington House and Arlington National Cemetary together help to show the abudance of history that Arlington County has.”
  • Crystal Fountain — “The different colors also represent the diversity in Arlington. I’m grateful to be living in such beautiful and diverse community as Arlington.”
  • Arlington Landmark — “To me, it’s light symbolizes Arlington’s dreams and opportunities. My years in Arlington have showed me that I can grow into whoever I want to be.”

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office is still updating its website with the decals and the unedited descriptions each student wrote. Residents will be able to vote for their favorite starting on Thursday and running through January 19.

County to Get Pay by Phone Parking Meters

by Katie Pyzyk | November 26, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 893 views | No Comments

Parking metersComing on the heels of Alexandria’s announcement that it will implement a pay by phone option at parking meters, officials say Arlington County will be doing the same next year.

The county’s Department of Environmental Services (DES) hopes to have the system up and running by the fall of 2014. Right now DES is waiting for the police department to update its parking enforcement system before moving forward.

DES Parking Manager Sarah Stott explained that the handheld devices currently used by parking enforcement officers are not connected to a wireless system. ACPD needs to purchase new wireless handheld devices that are connected to “the cloud” where all the pay by phone information is stored. Once the system is in place, officers can type in a license plate and a message will pop up if the meter user paid by cell phone. Some systems also allow officers to type in a location and instantly which cars on that block paid by cell phone.

The county has received a number of inquiries about the possibility of installing the system, which Stott says is far more convenient than fishing for quarters or waiting for the current parking kiosks to print a time slip.

“We do get calls asking if we’re going to be getting pay by cell,” Stott said. “I think it will be positive, people will be very happy to get it.”

The county will proceed with finding a system vendor once the police department purchases new handheld units, which may happen by spring or summer of 2014. The three D.C. area jurisdictions with pay by phone capabilities all use different vendors — the District uses Parkmobile, Montgomery County uses MobileNow! and Alexandria will use Pango. Stott said Arlington will examine those vendors and others when determining which the county will choose.

Because no vendor has been chosen, the county is not sure exactly how the system will function. Typically, users with smart phones are able to add time to meters with a credit card via an app or by logging on to a website. Customers who do not have a smart phone should be able to add time by calling a phone number listed on the meter.

An iPark device (photo via Arlington County)The county will still keep traditional parking meters and the kiosks that dispense paper tickets. Despite trouble with a vendor going out of business earlier this year, the iPark system also will remain in place. County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said Arlington was able to purchase the recharge codes for the existing iPark devices so customers can continue to use them. County workers are in the process of finding alternative devices for those who may wish to purchase one in the future. O’Leary likes the idea of providing the public with a number of options for parking payments.

“The more options you give people, the more likely they are to take advantage of the situation,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned there’s no single solution, there are multiple solutions. Give people alternatives and make this as painless as possible.”

O’Leary does not anticipate any issues with the county’s parking meter revenue when the new pay by phone system goes live. In fact, he indicated there’s a chance revenue could increase if more people use the county’s parking spots when they discover the ease of pay by phone.

“I think people will migrate to this rapidly because I don’t think many people like the pay and park, where you have to walk back to your car to put a piece of paper on your dashboard,” said O’Leary. “I don’t think this is going to pose any major headaches.”

It’s unclear exactly how long it will take to implement the pay by phone parking system throughout Arlington; that will be determined once a vendor is chosen. The vendor will work with the county to put up signs explaining the system, and that is often done in phases.

Arlington to Auction Off Tax Delinquent Properties

by ARLnow.com | May 31, 2013 at 11:55 am | 3,080 views | No Comments

arlington-va-logoArlington County will be auctioning off five properties next month in order to collect long-delinquent taxes.

The auction will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 28, in Room 109 of the county office building at 2100 Clarendon Blvd.

The approximate location, size and value of the properties are:

  • 3600 block of S. Four Mile Run Drive near Shirlington (0.061 acres, assessed at $233,300)
  • 3000 block of 17th Street S. in Nauck (3,750 square feet, assessed at $144,400)
  • N. Cameron Street in Hall’s Hill (7,994 square feet, assessed at $418,200)
  • N. Colonial Terrace in North Rosslyn (0.1133 acres, assessed at $370,100)
  • S. Nelson Street in Douglas Park (1,972 square feet, assessed at $8,900)

From an Arlington County Treasurer’s Office press release:

Properties qualify for the judicial sale process once they are delinquent for 2 years or more following December 31. The Treasurer hopes to recover the delinquent taxes against the five properties that will be offered for sale on that day. In aggregate, the five properties owe taxes, penalties, interest and fees totaling more than $130,000.

The Office of the Treasurer has worked diligently to collect delinquent taxes throughout the county. The Treasurer’s Office has an annual collection rate of more than 99.8% on real estate taxes, perhaps the highest in the State. “While we are extremely proud of our collection rate,” said County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, “sometimes, taxes are not paid and the owners of a parcel or their heirs cannot be located. In these cases, the judicial sale process is the only way for the County to recover the taxes. We are looking forward to new owners putting these properties to productive economic or residential use, which will benefit all of Arlington.”

The Treasurer coordinates the tax sale process with the law firm of Taxing Authority Consulting Services, PC, whose fee is paid by the delinquent taxpayer or from the proceeds of sale.

“This is a rare opportunity for people to participate in a real property auction in Arlington,” O’Leary said, “We encourage interested parties to join us on June 28th, either in-person or online. It should be an interesting, and perhaps even exciting, event.”

For additional information about the terms and conditions of sale, you can visit: http://taxsales.taxva.com. To participate in the auction online, please visit: http://www.rasmus.com/auction_detail.php?id=204700.

County Working to Collect Tax Debts from Shuttered Restaurants

by ARLnow.com | March 1, 2013 at 11:35 am | 1,494 views | 33 Comments

The former Eleventh Street Lounge in ClarendonClosed restaurants dominate the list of meals tax delinquencies in Arlington County. The latest list, from December, includes only 3 currently-open restaurants among the 23 that owe the county more than $10,000.

(Meals tax delinquencies are often accrued when restaurants collect a required tax on food from customers but then fail to pay the collected funds to Arlington County.)

The open restaurants on the list include Extra Virgin (4053 Campbell Avenue) in Shirlington, which has been gradually paying off its debt. The restaurant now owes the country $38,402.12, down from $54,568.51 one year prior. Also on the list is Monuments Restaurant (2480 S. Glebe Road), a restaurant in the Comfort Inn hotel on Glebe Road near I-395. Monuments owes $27,722.09 according to the list, which is published by the county treasurer’s office. Village Bistro (1723 Wilson Blvd), located between Rosslyn and Courthouse, is listed as owing $19,614.13.

Among closed restaurants, the former Bebo Trattoria owes $173,716.28, up from $167,366.79 last year due to interest. Bebo owner Roberto Donna is currently the chef at Al Dente restaurant in D.C., and is planning to helm a second restaurant in the District soon. By court order, he is paying the county $500 per month.

The second-highest meals tax debt to the county is $121,126.93, which is owed by the former Eleventh Street Lounge in Clarendon.

Christopher J. Sadowski, Arlington’s Deputy Treasurer for Litigation, says the county is trying to collect its debts, even from the owners of closed restaurants. He said the Treasurer’s Office has an “increased focus on and aggressiveness in collecting delinquent meals taxes.”

“Clearly, older debts are harder to collect, and the likelihood that assets and responsible parties can be located decreases the longer a business has been closed,” Sadowski said. “The Treasurer, however, does not give up on or forget about any delinquent account (though we do allocate our resources and efforts as appropriate). As evidence of that, we are now receiving payments from some long-closed restaurants near the top of the list for the first time in years due to recent collection efforts by this Office.”

“Now, do I think that despite our very best efforts, some of those delinquent accounts and dollars will go uncollected?” he continued. “In reality and unfortunately, yes.”

Sadowski said the county is also proactively trying to prevent other restaurants from falling behind on their meals tax payments.

“We do not allow restaurants to fall behind, or at least not very far behind, in remitting their meals tax payments,” he said.

The delinquency list (above $10,000), after the jump.

(more…)

Next Year’s Vehicle Decal to Feature USS Arlington

by ARLnow.com | October 23, 2012 at 11:15 am | 4,984 views | 82 Comments

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office will again be holding a contest for high school students to design the county’s new annual vehicle decal, but this year’s competition will have a theme.

All designs for the 2013-2014 decal must feature an image of the USS Arlington, a new Navy ship named after the county in commemoration of the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. The ship will be commissioned in Hampton Roads, Va. this coming spring.

The design contest is open to all high school students residing or attending school in Arlington. Entries are due by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 21. Rules and entry instructions can be found online.

Four decal design finalists will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 13. The winning decal (chosen by popular vote) will be announced on Jan. 22, 2013. The new decals will be distributed next summer, to be displayed on the windshield of more than 155,000 vehicles in Arlington.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | August 21, 2012 at 8:50 am | 3,001 views | 71 Comments

Treasurer’s Charity Mailing a ‘Win-Win’ — Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary says fliers for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and the Arlington Food Assistance Center that went out in the mail with county vehicle decals this year represent a win-win for the community. The nonprofits paid the cost of printing and the extra cost of mailing the decals with the fliers. [Sun Gazette]

Fight at RiRa Irish Pub — A fight broke out at RiRa Irish Pub (2915 Wilson Boulevard) in Clarendon around 8:15 last night. Witnesses tell ARLnow.com that two drunk patrons got in a fight inside the bar. As the fight spilled outside onto the sidewalk some passersby might have gotten involved. Numerous police officers responded to the scene and at least one of the of the fight participants was transported to the hospital. An Arlington Falls Church Young Republicans meeting was taking place inside RiRa at the time of the fight, but the group and its members were not involved, we’re told.

AHC Seeks Volunteer Tutors — AHC Inc., an Arlington-based affordable housing nonprofit, is looking for more than 100 enthusiastic, responsible volunteers to help tutor teens in the evening or to work with elementary students in the afternoon. AHC’s tutoring programs for its residents start on Monday, Sept. 17. More information about volunteering is available on the organization’s web site.

Flickr pool photo by Ddimick

Real Estate Tax Deadline Approaching

by Katie Pyzyk | June 5, 2012 at 2:45 pm | 2,150 views | 35 Comments

The first installment of Arlington real estate taxes is due in 10 days, on Friday, June 15.

Payments not received or postmarked by that date will be considered late. Penalties will be the same amount as the tax if less than $10 is owed, $10 if between $10 and $100 is owed and 10% of the tax amount if more than $100 is owed.

Real estate taxes are split into two installments, and the deadline for the second installment is Friday, October 5.

Payments can be made by mail, in person or online. Anyone who hasn’t yet received a bill should contact the Treasurer’s Office right away, at 703-228-4000 or treasurer@arlingtonva.us.

Donna’s Debt Increasing On Overdue Meals Tax List

by ARLnow.com | December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm | 4,211 views | 48 Comments

The latest version of Arlington’s meals tax delinquency list was released earlier this month and it looks like bad news for chef Roberto Donna.

Donna, whose Galileo III restaurant in D.C. closed in September, now owes Arlington County $167,366.79, up from $150,715.96 in June, according to the list. The debt stems from the failure of Donna’s Bebo Trattoria restaurant in Crystal City, which closed in 2009 amid a mountain of debt and a federal lawsuit. Prior to the closing of Galileo III, Donna had been making small court-ordered payments on his meals tax debt.

(Meals tax delinquencies are often accrued when restaurants collect a required tax on food from customers but then fail to pay the collected funds to Arlington County.)

While the delinquency list includes many restaurants that have gone out of business, some of the establishments on the list are still open. Among them:

  • Extra Virgin in Shirlington: $54,568.51 (down from $65,098.93 in June)
  • Quiznos Subs (various locations): $36,095.49
  • Las Delicias Restaurant in Nauck: $27,422.02 (up from $23,906.53 in June)
  • Caribbean Breeze in Ballston: $22,078.84 (up from $8,419.87 in June)
  • Texas BBQ Factory in Pentagon City: $21,080.85 (up from $8,814.02 in June)
  • Tortoise and Hare Bar & Grille in Crystal City: $16,794.49
  • Village Bistro in Rosslyn: $10,110.26

Spotted: Arlington Tax Enforcers on the Prowl

by ARLnow.com | December 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm | 7,714 views | 128 Comments

Just like Santa Claus, Arlington’s tax enforcers know whether you’ve been naughty or nice. But instead of giving you a lump of coal in your stocking, the tax enforcers are taking something: your license plates.

We spotted Arlington County’s Automated License Plate Recognition vehicle on the prowl (see photo, top) in an apartment parking lot today. The vehicle — the only one of its kind in the county fleet — automatically reads license plates and tells the tax enforcement employee inside which vehicles belong to owners with overdue parking fines, vehicle property taxes or other public debts.

When they find a vehicle whose owner owes a considerable amount of taxes and/or fines, the enforcers will confirm the vehicle type and then either use an electric screwdriver to take the vehicle’s license plates (for Virginia plates) or place a boot on the vehicle’s wheel (for out-of-state plates). The owner then has to pay up to get the plates back or the boot taken off.

(Sometimes owners who owe less than $200 are let off the hook with a simple warning note.)

The county bought the Automated License Plate Recognition system for some $30,000 back in 2004. Arlington was the first locality in the U.S. using such technology for tax purposes, according to the county Treasurer’s Office. Since it was first rolled out, we’re told the license plate readers have helped collect some $1.4 million.

“It has paid its way many times since then,” Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com. O’Leary said the average debt collected is between $600 and $700.

The county typically does not tow vehicles, to relieve owners of the “extra hardship” of having to retrieve the vehicle and pay the towing fee, according to O’Leary.

2012-2013 Decal Design Competition Kicks Off

by ARLnow.com | October 17, 2011 at 3:58 pm | 2,409 views | 39 Comments

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office is asking for entries for its 2012-2013 Vehicle Decal Design Competition. The contest, now in its eighth year, is open to all high school students who live in Arlington.

“The competition will give you the opportunity to practice your design skills as well as participate in the workings of local government,” the Treasurer’s Office said in a letter to high school students. “The winning decal design will be displayed on the windshields of over 155,000 vehicles in Arlington, and will become part of the Arlington decal exhibit located at the county administrative building.”

Students are asked to submit their design as a JPEG file, either via email or via CD. The design must be in a resolution no less than 300 DPI. The final decal measures 1.5 inches by 2.25 inches. More detailed instructions are available on the county’s web site.

Entries for the contest must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23. Four finalists will be chosen by a “Citizens’ Panel” and will be announced in the Sun Gazette newspaper on Thursday, Dec. 8. Sun Gazette readers will then vote for a winning design, which is expected to be announced on Jan. 24, 2012.

The finalists will each receive a $500 savings bond.

This year’s competition winner was “Hume, Sweet Hume,” by Wakefield High School student Maya Giacobbe.

Electronic iPark Devices Available Again

by ARLnow.com | October 11, 2011 at 3:08 pm | 2,937 views | 14 Comments

Arlington County has quietly started offering iPark devices again.

The iPark is an electronic gadget that allows you to pay for parking in Arlington by pressing a button and hanging the device from your rear view mirror. The big advantage is the ability to pay for parking by the minute, without having to guess how long you’re going to be in a spot and without having to carry coins or fiddle with those multi-space parking meters.

The county stopped selling iParks last winter, after the company behind the device encountered some financial difficulties. Those problems have since been cleared up, apparently, and the county has started offering iParks to citizens once again.

“Epark, the manufacturer if iPark, has recapitalized and is under new management,” Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com. “Accordingly, we are moving ahead full bore.”

The iPark is available for purchase at the Treasurer’s Office at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 215. The device itself costs $20, and prepaid parking funds can be added via cash, check or credit card.

Fewer People Show Up on Tax Deadline Day

by Katie Pyzyk | October 7, 2011 at 9:52 am | 912 views | 6 Comments

The expected rush of residents paying their county taxes at the last minute didn’t happen as originally thought. County Treasurer Frank O’Leary predicted around 2,600 people would show up on Wednesday to pay their vehicle personal property tax and installment two of the county’s real estate tax in person, but the number was actually 2,201.

That day alone brought in almost $6.5 million for the county, making the total amount collected from walk-ins during the final week $30.7 million. Compare that with 2009, when 2,799 people showed up on the final day and paid nearly $11.8 million, with the final week totaling $35.8 million.

O’Leary notes that printing trouble last year caused the tax bills to be sent out 10 days late, so the deadline was extended by 10 days, to October 15. That made comparisons to 2010 invalid so 2009 numbers are used for comparisons instead. The 2009 numbers were also adjusted to take into consideration the new technology system this year.

Technology upgrades and an extra register made the process move smoothly. O’Leary also credits “alternative” payment methods such as online tax payments with making things easier.

He said, “My promise that no customer would wait more than six minutes for service was easily fulfilled.”

Overall, the number of people choosing to pay in person has declined by more than 1,200 people, or nearly 17%, since 2009. O’Leary also noticed that immigrants, who make up the majority of walk-in payments on the due date, didn’t arrive in the same volume as previous years.

Workers in the Treasurer’s Office plan to analyze information gathered by the new technology. O’Leary says it will help to better determine who pays, when, and how.

So Far, So Good on the County’s Tax Due Date

by ARLnow.com | October 5, 2011 at 3:43 pm | 2,122 views | 42 Comments

“Our tax party isn’t very popular any more,” Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said with a smile this afternoon, as residents trickled into the county government building in Courthouse (2100 Clarendon Blvd) to make last-minute tax payments. Thanks to a clockwork-like directing-and-collecting operation, some 25 county staffers strong, lines have remained relatively short on what is traditionally a very busy tax deadline day.

“A year ago, you would have had a sea of humanity here,” said O’Leary, who has served as Treasurer for 28 years. “So far, that’s not the case…. This is the lightest due date in my history.”

After handling about 1,600 in-person tax payments on Monday, and 1,800 payments on Tuesday, O’Leary guessed last night that his office would have to handle about 2,600 payments today. That, O’Leary says, now seems like an overestimation.

“The biggest story this year is there is no story,” he said. “We were surprised.”

“Ahh, it’s not like the old days,” one Treasurer’s office employee was overheard saying to a colleague.

O’Leary credited the work of employees from the Treasurers office and the Commissioner of Revenue’s office for keeping things moving. He also said that “alternative” payment methods he’s worked to put in place over the years — from online tax payments to instituting tax payments at banks — have also helped.

The biggest change from past years O’Leary has noticed is that immigrants — who make up the overwhelming majority of in-person taxpayers on the due date — aren’t here in the numbers of previous years.

Tax payment stations — including the usual Treasurers counter on the second floor and an “express” area set up on the first floor — will remain open until 5:00 tonight.

Arlington Tax Deadline Approaching

by ARLnow.com | September 26, 2011 at 9:45 am | 2,582 views | 27 Comments

The payment deadline is fast approaching for Arlington’s vehicle personal property tax and for installment two of the county’s real estate tax.

Both tax bills are due next week on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

In addition, the Arlington County Treasurer’s office is reminding residents that the 2011-2012 vehicle decals must be displayed on windshields by Nov. 15.

“If residents would like more information (including payment options, information about the Taxpayer Assistance Program, etc.), they may visit www.arlingtonva.us/treas or call 703-228-4000,” a Treasurer’s office representative wrote. “Residents may also contact the Treasurer’s office by emailing treasurer@arlingtonva.us.”

Real Estate Tax Due Date Approaches

by ARLnow.com | June 8, 2011 at 9:57 am | 1,686 views | 34 Comments

The Arlington County Treasurer’s Office is reminding residents that real estate taxes are due next week.

June 15 is the semi-annual payment deadline for property taxes. Payments postmarked after June 15 are subject to penalties and interest charges.

See the treasurer’s web site for more information about paying tax bills and about the county’s Taxpayer Assistance Program. Residents can also contact the Treasurer’s Office directly by calling 703-228-4000 or emailing treasurer@arlingtonva.us.

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