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Vehicle Decal Contest Finalists Revealed

by ARLnow.com December 13, 2012 at 10:05 am 9,111 123 Comments

The four finalists in the county’s annual vehicle decal design contest have been revealed.

For the first time, the 2013-2014 decal contest included a theme. Entrants — the contest is open to Arlington high school students — were told to include a photo of the new USS Arlington in their design. They were also given the option of choosing a background color for the first time.

Arlington residents can vote for their favorite of the four designs via the Arlington County Treasurer website. Voting will close on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, and the winner will be announced at the Jan. 29 Arlington County Board meeting.

The winning design will appear on over 155,000 windshields.

  • novasteve

    How about one with a naked dude wearing flip flops throwing a molotov?

    • Glebe Roader

      Wow, so witty.

  • Westover

    Show some respect dude. To the sailors on the USS Arlington, and the kids who designed the stickers.

    • novasteve

      Perhaps when I don’t have to pay $33 for that sticker I’ll show some “Respect”.

      • Eric

        My first sticker in Arlington cost $5 in 1996. When the counties lost the car tax revenue suddenly they needed to charge more money for the decal. Go figure.

        • Wayne Kubicki

          VA counties never lost any car tax revenue. The “reduction” you see on your PPT bill is paid to Arlington by the state.

      • Spaghetti

        At least you get a sticker… in Fairfax County we pay the $33 and get nothing… they call it a “Registration Fee.”

    • Arlingtoner

      Westover, don’t mind novasteve…he’s always a negative nancy and never has anything positive to add.

      • novasteve

        There’s so much to be positive about having to pay $33 for a sticker.

        • John

          All right, I have a solution. Don’t drive. Don’t buy a car and don’t drive on public funded roads you moocher.

          • novasteve

            I pay gasoline taxes. Maybe all the prius drivers should have to buy multiple stickers if that money goes to roads since they use less gasoline and thus don’t contribute as much to the road funds?

          • drax

            The gas tax in Virginia is not indexed to inflation and hasn’t been raised since 1986. We are way short on transportation funds for that reason.

            Nationally, up to half of road and other infrastructure is now paid for with general funds instead of gas taxes or other user fees.

          • novasteve

            Inflation still doesn’t take into account that more efficient cars means that you pay less to contribute to roads the more mpg you get. Prius owners need to pay up.

          • Dezlboy

            @novasteve, more fuel efficient cars and hybrids mean less pollution and less greenhouse gases. so these cars (owners) contribute in other ways than fuel tax.

            Awaiting your snippy reply 🙂

          • ARL-VA

            steve-o probably still thinks that gas taxes fully fund road/bridge construction and maintenance costs. I don’t remember the exact federal numbers but I think gas taxes fund about 50-60% of transportation expenditures.

            At the state level, gas taxes only pay for 30% of state expenditures on the road network. The remaining 70% comes from other revenue sources (income and sales taxes, other taxes and fees). (Not that this means cyclists do pay their fair share for road costs. Actually, they pay more than their fair share, considering the reduced health costs of active people, and the fact that cyclists do not tear up the roads and bridges. Cars and trucks do.)

            Steve kind of has a point about hybrid drivers not paying as much in gas taxes as drivers of traditional vehicles. But there are other considerations. Lower petroleum consumption means less pollution and exploration costs. Air pollution directly affects human health, contributing enormous amounts to the national health bill every year, through higher rates of asthma, contamination and reaction to all the toxins in automobile exhaust.

            Transportation funding in general is a problem. That needs to be fixed. But there are also broader benefits in reducing the amount of gasoline being burned in automobile engines every day.

          • ARL-VA

            * (Note that this means…)

            On a side note, if the stickers help convince some inactive people to start walking and biking more… well, that would be a good thing too, considering that the U.S. spends about $150 billion every year on treating obesity-related health problems. Eating better would help too. Steve is upset about subsidizing Prius drivers. Well, many people who are active, eat a healthy diet and don’t smoke are tired of shelling out $150 billion collectively in higher gov’t taxes and higher private health insurance costs to subsidize people who choose to be inactive, eat badly and smoke. Seems like a free ride to me, to live that lifestyle.

          • novasteve

            Dez, producing less CO2 doesn’t paly for roads. The gas tax does, which they pay less of due to more efficient cars.

        • Westover

          There are other ways to protest this, or to complain, without insulting our sailors who are willing to give their lives for you, or the kids just entering a contest. Show some freaking respect.

          • Major Pup McPuppo Jr.

            how are his comments insulting sailors and the kids?

            everyone either mad or offended on this site, lol

          • Josh S

            I respect the sailors.

            But since when is our car tax sticker contest about showing respect for sailors? Just because all four images feature the same navy ship? If all four images featured notable tall trees in Arlington and someone dissed the sticker, would you say “show some respect for trees?”

            Every time I pass a billboard advertising Navy FCU showing a guy in uniform, I have to salute it?

            It’s just an image. The purpose of the sticker has nothing to do with sailors, the navy, the USS Arlington, etc.

          • drax

            I also see no disrespect in steve’s comments.

          • 1RLI

            Josh S. – Excellent response.

        • BooHoo

          Waa waa, I’m an overprivileged Arlingtonian in a county with high property values and good services but I have to fork over thirty three whole dollars to register my car in Arlington. Waaaaaa

    • Herman

      Touchy touchy! I didn’t see anything disrespectful to the sailors or kids.

    • Libby

      I don’t see how Steve’s comment becomes a respect issue for either the sailors aboard Arlington or the sticker designers.

    • Josh S

      Designed? Is photoshopping different backgrounds in “designing?”

      • Orange Rider

        Makes you wonder what the ones that didn’t make this final cut looked like. I mean, you’ve got the ship, and then the background. What else can you do?

  • fedworker

    That must be one tiny boat. The decals sure make Four Mile Run look like an ocean.

    • Josh S


    • Richard Cranium

      Of course it’s Donaldson Run, not Four Mile Run.

      • other side of the river


  • JamesE

    I vote for the streetcar decal

    • westoverreaction

      That’s disrespectful to streetcar drivers.

    • Eric

      I’m voting for this decal.

    • Douglas Parker

      You just won at the internet!

    • Mary-Austin

      That might not go over so well as people start to deal with the royal pain of streetcar construction.
      Maybe put some of the other vanity projects on the pike over the next 5-10 years while the trolly is tearing up the Pike.

      • DCBuff

        How about a real competition? One sticker with the Artisphere, another with the pool park, another with an AECom logo, and so forth?

  • GMo

    Meh…kinda weak this year.

    • Swag

      Every year. They should just use the city logo and change the color each year.

      • 1RLI

        Too simple, and too much common sense.

    • Dezlboy

      Agreed, none of the decals do much for me. The sunset and gray cloud are just okay. The flag ship looks like a toy. That leaves the ship with the logo decal.

  • malaka

    Surely they have one of them anchoring at Donaldson’s Run?

  • FunReadArlNow

    @fedworker: that’s Donaldson Run, not Four Mile Run!

    • nom de guerre

      Speaking of Donaldson Run, Sam’s Food truck is introducing their USS Arlington sandwich which features pan seared, locally sourced, free range Donaldson Run foie gras on toasted brioche topped with a fig and balsamic vinegar reduction, mache salad and Humbolt Fog® goat’s milk cheese.

      • FrenchyB


    • fedworker

      My bad. You are correct!

  • CourthouseChris

    Top-Left, understated and balanced – the classiest one of the bunch. We don’t need the excesses of all that gaudy color of the right ones.

    • Josh S

      Yeah, but it’s under cloudy/stormy skies. Sailors are a superstitious lot – go with the blue sky image.

      • janedough

        “sailors are a superstitious lot”? now that’s dissing sailors! (just showing you how ridiculous this gets sometimes!)

      • other side of the river

        But is that red sky at morning or night?

  • CrystalMikey

    In for the “why do we still have decals unlike 90% of the other VA jurisdictions”?

    • novasteve

      Because they can make money off of forcing you to pay $33 for the sticker so they can use the money buy votes with.

      • Hank

        I’m totally confused by this. Are you saying the $33 goes directly to board members’ reelection campaign accounts? Or indirectly, even? Or are you not referring to board members? Who are “they?”

        • novasteve

          It goes to handouts which they use to get votes. It’s in essence, buying votes. If you think about it, if they didn’t do the sticker, they wouldnt’ have to send out the mailing and there wouldn’t be stuff that gets thrown out like the envelope and the letter, and the sticker after it expires. If they really cared about the environment, they wouldn’t do it, but the $33 is obvioiusly more important than the environment.

          • Hank

            Serious question, does anyone know if the $33 is ear-marked for specific projects, or does it go into some kind of general fund?

          • Josh S

            Even in a long and illustrious career of incoherent responses, this is definitely one of the most incoherent.

          • drax

            General fund, I believe.

          • Paul

            Well, I assume “some” of the $33 fee goes to administrative costs of keeping track of over 100,000 vehicles subject to the tax. Perhaps my biggest beef with Gilmore’s phony car tax “elimination” is that it didn’t eliminate the whole PPT architecture and administrative overhead. It’s just basically an elaborate transfer payment scheme to the cities and counties, via the state treasury.

        • Voter in steve’s brain

          They money comes directrly to us. we get $33 for voting Dem, silly.

          • drax

            Yeah, everyone pays $33 and gets $33 in return. Makes perfect sense to steve.

          • bobbytiger


  • Ugh

    Still not clear on why I need to buy a sticker of a ship that was hours away at closest. It can’t possibly be the highlight of an area its never been in. Very few Arlingtonians will ever see it. Though I’m glad the sailors got a nice ship, this seems yet another misguided sticker decision. Why do we have stickers and why must I buy a one depicting a military ship that I’ll never see?

    • M

      You don’t have to “buy” one, you have to pay an annual vehicle tax to Arlington County, and prove that you did so by displaying a sticker on your windshield. The County could just put the county seal on the sticker every year. Instead, the county runs a contest for local students to give them some experience in art and graphic design, and allows residents to vote on the finalists. It is about as accurate, and significant, as American Idol, and should be regarded as light entertainment for anyone who cares to follow it, or ignored by those who don’t.
      But for some reason, every year certain people become wildly offended by the whole process, complaining that the designs are too militaristic, or not militaristic enough, or that the contest lacks an option to vote for not having a vehicle tax at all, etc.

      • Josh S

        Really, this (by M) should just be the last post on this thread and no more are needed.

        Nah. It’s too fun to b*tch and moan at one another….

      • nom de guerre

        The current $33 decal fee is in addition to the personal property tax that is assessed on the vehicle(s) that you own and/or garage/park in Arlington.

        • DCBuff

          Exactly. And, to add insult here, of course while the PPT is deductible, the $33 decal fee (for a decal that cost pennies to make) is not.

      • M2

        Unless I misunderstand the county’s website you do have to buy one. It is $33 in addition to your personal property tax on your car. The county says that it is “the best tool to ensure payment of personal property taxes by all who have vehicles in Arlington County. Computerized systems (such as DMV) are too often inaccurate to be as effective as the decal for property tax enforcement.” They estimate that it is responsible for Arlington’s delinquency rates of .55% compared to other local jurisdictions with delinquency rates as high as 10%.

        It would be interesting to see what the real return on investment is. Does the amount collected for the stickers exceed the amount of delinquent taxes collected as a result of sticker enforcement?

        Also, how do police know if a car is “just visiting” or if it belongs to a resident so they know whether to ticket it or not for not having a sticker. If the answer is that they use a computerized system (such as the DMV), that undermines the argument.

        • ACDC Hack

          It is maximum amount that the state allows Arlington to charge for the sticker.

          Which is of course why Arlington does not get rid of the sticker.

          It amounts to something like a million to two million dollar windfall for the county.

        • RZ

          They ticket the cars that have an old sticker and haven’t gotten around to updating to that year’s sticker. So you’re better off never putting any on in the first place than failing to update.

    • CW

      Probably because a bunch of Northrop Grumman execs who live in Arlington pressured the County into doing it,

      • darsasx

        Except NGC sold off its ship-building business. I’m thinking it’s more of an homage to keep other DoD offices from fleeing to cheaper pastures, which will probably happen sooner because of the budget pressures and realities.
        If your budget gets cut by 10% and you can save 15-20% in rent alone by moving out deeper into Fairfax County (or Loudoun), why would you waste any time or other resources figuring out additional ways to save?

      • FrenchyB

        Or maybe it’s because some Arlington residents take pride in having this ship named after their home?

        No, that can’t be it.

        • novasteve

          I’d think that most arlington residents would probably take more pride in having a flavor of Froyo named after Arlington than a warship.

          • DCBuff

            Okay, finally. Steve, that is funny.

    • fedworker

      On a related note, I’m stil not clear on why VA residents need to pay Johnny Mechanic to sit in my car and make sure that all of my lights work (just on that day, mind you) for the privilege of placing a yellow sticker next to the USS Arlington decal and junking up my windshield. The mob must be behind this crock.

      • drax

        This isn’t an inspection sticker, it’s a tax sticker. Two completely different things.

        • JamesE

          that is what he said……

          • drax

            Ah, missed the “next to.” Sorry, fedworker.

        • j

          slow down…….you’re starting to sound like the rest of us.

    • Major Pup McPuppo Jr.

      wow by saying that u are implicitly saying u hate arlington and the children that designed these. i am quick to anger/cast judgment and anonymous online.

  • Ug! Is it illegal to put black duck tape over the picture. I thought ArlCo had gotten over having the military on every damn decal.

    • ACDC Hack

      You can cover up the entire picture portion of the sticker with an image of your choosing.

      There have in fact been rather lively discussions of what alternatives could be used in past years.

    • Eric

      Doing a patriotic theme on the sticker relieves the County Board from having to waste their precious time opening their meetings with a Pledge of Allegiance.

      • ACDC Hack

        Actually, I think that the “patriotic” themes are a dig by O’Leary at the ACDC stemming from their non-support of O’Leary from a few elections back when O’Leary made some racially tinged comments about a fellow who dared to run against him in the democratic primary and the ACDC didn’t support O’Leary in the general election.
        The decals seemed to take a jingoistic turn at that point.

    • Black Duck

      You may use any color of duck you choose. I prefer teal.

  • Challenger

    If I ran for Treasurer on the platform to get rid of the sticker, but you still pay the $33, would you vote for me? Seriously.

    • Banana_Boat

      no way man, if i am going to be forced to pay $33 i’d better get something back in return. that i can see and hold in my hand and stick on my car if i want.

      • Banana_Boat

        although now that i think about it i’d vote for anyone but frank o’leary. not that there is anything really i have against him except i have to write him checks for all my parking tickets and taxes.

    • mike

      Only if there is a (D) next to your name.
      — novasteve

      You obviously don’t understand the first thing about politics, novasteve, let me explain it all to you ….
      — drax

    • drax

      How about if you ran for governor promising to get rid of the car tax, but just replaced it with income taxes from the state so that the people still had the same overall tax burden but didn’t notice? And what if you actually won based on this charade?

      Oh, wait, that happened already.

    • Mary-Austin

      No…this isn’t Virginia Beach.

  • KRS

    Where the’s no-decal vote option?

  • SteroidGuy

    Needs something more manly, like a banner saying Mission Accomplished.

  • Thruhike98

    +1 on the Why-a-decal-at-all question.

    Much of the rest of the Commonwealth has done away with decals AND still collects a personal property tax.

    • JamesE

      +1 for no car tax at all

    • Paul

      Yep. Fairfax County got rid of theirs 6 years ago.

      • Paul

        Why should I pay a $33 “decal fee” to Arlington County every year, for a beater pickup worth less than $3k, which is the threshold to owe any PPT (after the state rebate).

        • novasteve

          Because your $33 can be used by the county to buy votes. Every penny counts.

          • drax

            Don’t be a Romney.

    • Josh S

      Did you actually thru hike in ’98? If so, cool and congratulations.

      • Thruhike98

        Josh S: Yes, the A.T. Thanks!

  • Josh S

    Great. You can vote for a ship, a ship, a ship, or a ship.


  • Garden City

    The sticker design is a little one-note this year….

  • novasteve

    How about a sticker with things that cost $33 to remind us of what we could have used that money for otherwise? And I suggest the county start selling those stickers nationwide and internationally given they’d make a fortune selling such a tiny sticker for $33. Must be one of the most valuable substances on earth other than antimatter.

    • Arlingtoner

      why the continued ignorance on every thred? You were not and are not forced to live here. If you don’t like local rules and regulations, you are free to leave!

      • Quoth the Raven

        Arlington – Love it or Leave it!

      • ARL-VA


      • novasteve

        Funny, if I had called for illegal aliens to leave you’d be accusing me of being a bigot. But someone who can legally live here, it’s totally fine to tell them get out if they don’t share your views.

        • Arlingtoner

          So you already know how i would reply to your asanine comments? ha. You have the freedom to voice your opinions. But to daily just be such a negaitve person on every topic, it’s just sad….i feel sorry for coworkers that need to hear you be a negative nancy all day.

          • Josh S

            You’re insulting Nancys.

  • CZ

    Was about to vote then I realized I needed to put my name/address in. Seems like an elaborate set up for jury duty.

  • johnny b

    Maybe they should use the 33 bucks to teach students about the U.S. Flag Code.
    Proper respect and etiquette according to the code would eliminate one of the stickers.

    “The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.”

    Since the stickers are discarded each year, the one with the ‘flag boat’ violates this rule.

  • ARL-VA

    I like the photo in the top right, but the burgundy color of the lower left. But I also think that the picture should include the name of the ship. Otherwise, some people might wonder why an Arlington sticker has a picture of that ship.

  • Douglas Parker

    My personal favorite property sticker is the second image after you click on the picture of the final four (at the top) – Zimmie Cheezin!!!! Way to sneak that in there – Well done ArlNow!

    • plaayn

      +1. (And another for movember!)

  • Mary-Austin

    Red sky at night…sailor’s delight!

  • librarina

    Why does the decal picture morph into Chris Zimmerman when you double click on it? Does that happne to anyone else?

    And how is it all of you have so much time to post comments?? like anyone cares, really.

  • Arlingtonian

    johnny b:

    Great point about the flag code. The citizens of Arlington County that joined O’Leary’s committee to select the finalists were blissfully ignorant of the code. Let’s hope that they were not products of the County’s school system, which the student that designed the decal was. Blame the County’s School Board for not assuring that the County’s students receive adequate civic lessons, despite all of the taxpayers’ money that the Board spends.

    Now there will be a poll to select the final decal. Some of the same people will participate in the poll that voted for the parks bond without knowing (or caring) that that the park will be a building with a bunch of indoor swimming pools.

    It’s not too hard to predict the outcome of the poll.

  • danielobvt

    Hands down the bottom left one in red. Classic and incorporates the ships seal and national symbols. (without being tacky like the flag one… shudder…)

  • Set the Controls

    The USS Arlington looks like a cruise ship.

  • Josh

    A complete waste of time and tax payers’ money! Fairfax dropped the decal years ago. You’ll get a decal whether you pay your PP taxes or not.


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