Voting has just begun for the county’s 2011-2012 vehicle decal design competition.
Arlington residents will be able to vote for one of four designs selected for the competition. Each design was created by an Arlington high school student.
Voting will take place online between now and Feb. 13. The winner will be announced at February’s county board meeting.
Last year’s winning design showcased a snow-covered bridge over the W&OD Trail. This year, the design finalists include another snowy photo, a photo of the historic Hume School, a photo of the large clock near Courthouse Plaza, and an illustration featuring a bike path and the Rosslyn skyline.
Have you been putting off putting your new 2010-2011 county vehicle decal on your windshield? If so, you’ll want to stop to procrastination this weekend.
After Monday, county police will be able to ticket any county resident with an expired sticker.
There was a delay in mailing out the decals this year, but officials told us that would not affect the Nov. 15 display deadline.
At first glance, it does seem pretty suspect. Your used vehicle gets assessed at a value higher than last year, and you have to pay more personal property taxes as a result.
“I always thought one’s car lost value from the time it left the dealer,” a frustrated resident told us in an email. “Not sure how widespread this is, but it’s creating buzz in our neighborhood.”
Actually, it’s fairly widespread. Arlington County bases its vehicle assessments on the National Automobile Dealers Association’s yearly list of vehicle values, which comes out every January 1. This year, the values of many used SUVs, crossover vehicles, trucks and vans went up.
The reasoning behind the increase, says Arlington County Commissioner of Revenue Ingrid Morroy, is that the value of such gas-guzzlers plummeted in 2008 as fuel prices spiked through the roof. Those lower assessments were reflected in last year’s personal property tax bills. But one year later, the prices of big vehicles rebounded as gas prices fell and as manufacturers — in the process of transitioning away from gas-guzzlers — failed to produce enough new SUVs, CUVs, trucks and vans to keep up with demand.
Thus, as supply fell and demand grew, prices for all such vehicles, even used ones, went up last year and are reflected in the higher assessments this year.
“The assessment reflects fair market value,” Morroy said. She added that Arlington is lucky to have “a good mix” of vehicle types, and thus wasn’t hit by the downturn in truck and SUV values as hard as some of Virginia’s rural communities.
Morroy said that any vehicle owner with questions about his or her assessment should call 703-228-3135.
By this time, Arlington residents were supposed to have received about
95,000 115,000 vehicle decals and their accompanying 2011 personal property tax bills. But a problem with the printer has delayed the mailings until next week, throwing into limbo County Treasurer Frank O’Leary’s policy, per state law, of getting the bills to taxpayers 30 days before the October 5 payment deadline.
The printer problem wasn’t confined to Arlington. The same printing company is used by at least one other local jurisdiction, we’re told.
In Arlington, the decals must be displayed by November 15, which will give drivers plenty of time. But meeting the October 5 deadline for paying the tax may be more problematic.
“The county is trying to figure out a way to ensure that people have adequate time to pay their bills before any penalties are imposed,” a county source told ARLnow.com. One possibility is waiving the fees for late payments, up to a certain date. (Update: October 15. See below.)
If you don’t want to wait for the bill in the mail, you can pay your taxes online here.
Hat tip to J.A. for the heads up.
Update at 8:00 p.m. — The county has released a press release.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Defective forms have delayed the mailing of some 115,000 personal property tax bills, Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary said today. The problem also affected the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church, all of whom use the same form supplier, Graphic Communications, for their tax bills.
Arlington mailed some 45,000 bills this week, and expects to mail the remaining 70,000 bills next week, O’Leary said. By state law, the bills are required to be mailed no later than 30 days before the deadline for paying them. The County, by ordinance, has established Oct. 5 as the payment deadline for personal property tax.
Due to the delay, the County will only begin to charge penalties on payments received or postmarked after Oct. 15, to ensure ample time for residents to pay their bills.
“It is unfortunate that the bills could not be mailed in a timely fashion this year,” O’Leary said. “We regret this inconvenience for residents and the concern that it has caused.”
O’Leary noted that any additional printing and mailing costs will be borne by the vendor.
“We are glad that a solution has been found that is fair to taxpayers and fair to the County,” said Board Chairman Jay Fisette.
The design for Arlington’s 2010-2011 vehicle decal has been chosen.
Appropriately, considering this winter’s historic snowfall, the design features a snow-covered bridge over the W&OD trail.
The winner was chosen from a pool of 19 designs submitted by local high school students. It will soon be featured on the 155,000 vehicles garaged in Arlington.
The photo for this year’s design was submitted by Providence Smith of Wakefield High School. She said the photo “represents the recreational opportunities [in] Arlington.”
Smith and the three other design finalists, Cynthia Carson and Patricia Murray of Washington-Lee High and Sam Jones of the Potomac School, will each receive a $500 savings bond from Wachovia Bank.
Photos from today’s board meeting, where the winning design was revealed, after the jump.