Springfield-based Express Homebuyers sent a letter to Arlington homeowners claiming they owed real estate taxes to the county. The letter then offers to buy the recipient’s home to help pay the tax debt.
The Treasurer’s Office released the following statement about the letter Monday afternoon:
“We have recently become aware that many Arlington County homeowners have received correspondence from Jud Allen of Express Homebuyers, falsely claiming that these owners owe real estate taxes and that the County may take their homes away from them due to delinquent taxes.
Please be assured that, unless you have heard directly from the Arlington County Treasurer, you do not owe delinquent real estate taxes and there is no risk of the County taking or selling your home.
If you have any questions about this letter, or would like to report having received this letter, please call us at (703) 228-3090.”
Arlington County high school students can now submit their entries for the 2016-2017 Vehicle Decal Design Competition.
Now in its twelfth year, the annual contest is open to all students who live or go to school in Arlington.
“This contest is an opportunity to practice your design skills, as well as participate in the workings of local government,” Susan Anderson of Arlington Treasurer’s Office said in a letter to students. “It is truly a unique accomplishment for all the winners to highlight on their college applications and resumes.”
The letter also explained the winning design will be displayed on registration stickers on more than 160,000 vehicles and will become a part of a decal exhibit at the county administrative building.
Submissions are due to the Treasurer’s Office on Nov. 30 at 5 p.m, either via e-mail or a mailed CD.
Each design should be in JPEG format and have a resolution of no less than 300 DPI. Next year’s decals will have a red background with the design measuring 1.5 inches by 2.25 inches. Students must also submit an application with a short essay describing the design and why it visually represents Arlington. More detailed submission instructions are available on the county’s website.
After the submission period closes, a “Citizens Panel” will select four finalists — each will receive a cash prize — to be announced on the county’s website on Dec. 10. Residents will then vote for their favorite design online or by mailing a paper ballot to the Sun Gazette newspaper.
Voting will be open for approximately five weeks, and the winner is expected to be announced at a County Board meeting on Jan. 26, 2016.
Last year’s design contest winner was “A Nod to History” by Yorktown High School student Tommy Casey.
“In the event that you are waiting for your account to be adjusted or closed, please be sure to avoid late payment penalty by paying the balance by Oct. 5,” the county said in a statement. “Any overpayment will be refunded once your account has been adjusted.”
The county charges a personal property tax on all vehicles regularly parked overnight in Arlington, including cars, motorcycles, buses and boats.
“All cities and counties in Virginia have a personal property tax which helps fund local government,” the county said.
The Treasurer’s Office collects real estate taxes in two installments — the first is collected on July 15 and the second on Oct. 5.
“Real estate taxes support schools, fire and police protection, and other public services and benefits afforded to County residents,” the county said. “You help absorb these costs in proportion to the amount of money your property is worth.”
Residents who have questions about their bills can contact the Treasurer’s Office by emailing [email protected] or calling 703-228-4000.
The Arlington County Board is considering a recommendation by Arlington County Treasurer Carla de la Pava to reduce the fee for a real estate bill paid up to 30 days late from 10 percent to 5 percent. Tax bills paid after 30 days would continue to incur a 10 percent penalty.
“The Treasurer … has concluded that as currently implemented a 10 percent penalty for late payment of real estate taxes is unnecessarily harsh for delinquent taxpayers who pay of their own accord,” the county’s staff report reads. “Specifically, it treats those taxpayers who simply forgot about a due date the same as those who refuse to meet their tax obligation without collection action by the Treasurer.”
The average real estate bill last year, which are paid in two installments a year, was $2,752.50, according to the treasurer’s office. If a resident paid on June 17, just two days after the June 15 deadline, he or she would have had to pay a $275.25 late fee. If the County Board approves de la Pava’s recommendation, that penalty would be cut in half, to $137.63.
The treasurer’s office said 1,346 Arlington taxpayers paid their real estate taxes between one and 30 days late in 2014. The 10 percent late fee meant they paid a combined $535,721 in fees alone.
“As the average Arlington County real estate tax bill increases, so does the financial hardship suffered by generally honest property owners by the late payment penalty system currently in effect,” the report says. “Furthermore, it is worth noting that the typical homeowner with a mortgage escrow account is extremely unlikely to ever incur a late payment penalty. Instead, the individuals more likely to miss a real estate tax due date are longtime and older residents who no longer have a mortgage on their home and thus are directly and personally responsible for making their real estate tax installment payments.”
If the late penalty had been reduced in FY 2011, the county would have taken in an average of $235,000 less each year, or just under $1 million. The reduced fee has already been included in the FY 2016 budget, according to county staff.
The motion is on the County Board’s consent agenda on Saturday, which means it is likely to approve it without discussion. If the Board passes the motion, Arlington would be the first jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to not charge the maximum late fee on a real estate tax, according to county staff.
One Candidate for Treasurer Race — Democrat Carla de la Pava, who has served as Arlington County treasurer since July 7, following the retirement of Frank O’Leary, is running unopposed in November. No other candidate filed to run in the special election by the Aug. 15 filing deadline. [InsideNova]
Bracket Room to Host Pregame Shows — The Bracket Room, 1210 N. Garfield Street in Clarendon, will host both the Fox 5 and the 106.7 The Fan Redskins pregame broadcasts this fall, according to a press release. The on-location broadcasts will take place at the sports bar for all 16 regular season games. [PRNewswire]
Cyclists Stopped on I-66 — A pair of bicyclists “dressed like Lance Armstrong” were stopped by Arlington County police on I-66 this morning, according to scanner traffic. It’s unclear why the cyclists were on the interstate. Police directed them to nearby Glebe Road.
Arlington: Great for Soccer Moms? — Arlington is the No. 3 locality in the country for “soccer moms,” according to an analysis that factored in things like the number of soccer clubs and food and transportation affordability. [Nerd Wallet]
Ohio Town Raises Money for Arlington Family — Residents of Chagrin Falls, Ohio are trying to raise $10,000 for the Sachar family of Arlington. Their son, 8-year-old Ashlawn Elementary student Eli Sachar, was struck and killed by a car on July 12 during a visit to Chagrin Falls. [Cleveland.com]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Gas Leak Causes Evacuation in Clarendon — A Saturday gas leak forced the closing of Clarendon Blvd. near the Clarendon Metro station. Approximately 50 people evacuated six nearby buildings during the incident. Nobody was hurt. [Washington Post]
Proposal to Turn Basement into Classrooms — On Thursday, Arlington School Board members are expected to approve a $2 million project to turn basement crawl space into classrooms at Arlington Science Focus School. The project would end the need for the four relocatable classrooms on the school’s property, as well as a planned fifth. [InsideNova]
No GOP Treasurer Candidate So Far — The Arlington County Republican Committee doesn’t have any contenders so far to run in the special election for county treasurer. If no names are added by the August 15 deadline, Treasurer Carla de la Pava will be unopposed. [InsideNova]
Caucus Date Set for Treasurer, School Board — Arlington Democrats will hold a caucus the evening of Monday, Aug. 4 to determine the party’s nominees in the special elections to replace Treasurer Frank O’Leary and School Board member Noah Simon. The caucus will be held from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. [InsideNova]
Comeback for Crumbs? — The Crumbs store in Clarendon and across the country closed this week, but could a comeback for the cupcake company be imminent? A group of investors is planning to provide financing for the bankrupt Crumbs Bakeshop Inc., and that could revive some of the company’s stores. [Washington Business Journal]
Clarendon Art Festival to Return — The “Arlington Festival of the Arts” will return for a second year in Clarendon. The art festival is scheduled to take over part of N. Highland Street for two days on the weekend of Saturday, Sept. 20. [ArtFestival.com]
Last Day for Cheaper Tickets to ARLive — After today, tickets to the upcoming ARLive Startup Smackdown will increase from $15 to $20. The event — which is being held after work on Tuesday, July 22 — will pit about 20 Arlington-based startups against each other in a bid to collect the biggest “investment” from attendees, who will be given play money to dole out to their favorites. Beer, wine and food are included in the price of admission. [nVite]
Arlington Man’s Death Ruled a Homicide — The death of Arlington resident Michael Hrizuk in D.C.’s Glover Park neighborhood has been ruled a homicide. Hrizuk, 57, died of a “blunt impact head injury” during a reported assault. [Washington Post]
De la Pava Takes Over As Treasurer — After more than 30 years in office, Frank O’Leary stepped down as Arlington County Treasurer Monday. Stepping up to replace him is his chief deputy, Carla de la Pava, who was sworn in to serve as treasurer in a ceremony at county government headquarters. De la Pava is so far unopposed in an upcoming special election that would allow her to continue serving out O’Leary’s term, which runs through Dec. 2015. [InsideNova]
TDM Is the ‘Secret to Arlington’s Success’ — The man who heads Arlington County Commuter Services, the county’s Transportation Demand Management (TDM) agency, says TDM is the “secret to Arlington’s success.” Commuter Services Bureau Chief Chris Hamilton says ACCS programs like BikeArlington, WalkArlington, The Commuter Store and the Car-Free Diet campaign have helped to keep cars off the street even as Arlington’s population has grown. [Mobility Lab]
‘Orange Line Disaster’ at Courthouse — The Orange Line was a “disaster” at the Courthouse Metro station this morning, commuters reported via Twitter. According to various reports, delays started when a train with a door problem offloaded at Courthouse. Passengers crowded onto the platform at the station, which was reportedly un-air-conditioned. At some point, a passenger on a train fainted, prompting that train to hold at the station while medical personnel responded.
Photo courtesy James Mahony
Those who park in Arlington will soon be able to skip the parking meters and pay directly with their smartphone, Arlington County will announce this afternoon.
Arlington will utilize Parkmobile, the same smartphone parking system currently in use by the District of Columbia, allowing smartphone users to use a single app to park in Arlington and the District. Parkmobile is available for iPhone, Android, Windows 7 and Blackberry devices. It utilizes a stored credit card number to pay for parking.
Arlington will offer Parkmobile at all 5,329 metered spaces in the county, though the system will be rolled out in phases. Drivers will be able to use Parkmobile in Shirlington and Crystal City by late July, officials say. It is scheduled to be expanded to Pentagon City in the fall, Ballston and Clarendon in the winter, and all remaining areas — including Courthouse, Rosslyn and Columbia Pike — by spring 2015.
“Whether you use public transportation, bike, walk, or drive in and around Arlington County, we are committed to providing the best commuter experience possible,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a statement. “This technology will make it easier for our residents and visitors to pay for parking.”
Separately, Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary told ARLnow.com Tuesday evening that his office recently signed a 5-year contract to bring the EasyPark parking payment system to Arlington. EasyPark is a battery-operated device that allows drivers to pay for parking without using a parking meter or a phone. It will replace the legacy iPark system; new iParks are no longer available because the company behind the technology went out of business.
Nathan Norton, Deputy of Operations for the Treasurer’s Office, says the county is hoping to have EasyPark systems available for purchase online or at the Treasurer’s Office by mid-July. The devices will cost $30 but will come with $10 worth of parking. EasyPark devices can be refilled online or at the Treasurer’s Office. Unlike the iPark, which hangs from a vehicle’s rear view mirror, the Easypark will hang from the driver’s side window, making enforcement easier, Norton said.
The county says it will continue to accept payment for parking at meters (both mechanical coin-operated meters and credit card-enabled multispace meters) and via existing iParks, even after the new systems are rolled out.
Chief Deputy Treasurer Carla de la Pava, a Democrat, has launched a campaign website in which she lists endorsements from a number of prominent local Democratic officials, including O’Leary, Del. Patrick Hope, Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos and School Board member Noah Simon.
“After six years of excellent service to the Arlington County Treasurer’s Office and Arlington County citizens, Carla de la Pava is well prepared and highly qualified to be Arlington County Treasurer,” O’Leary is quoted as saying. “Experience does count!”
De la Pava can be expected “to continue the firm-but-fair collection practices that have seen the county’s tax-delinqency [sic] rate reach an all-time low,” according to the Sun Gazette, which covered a presentation by de la Pava to the South Arlington Kiwanis Club last month.
O’Leary — who was first elected treasurer in 1983, according to his county biography — was at a conference in Wise County, Va. and not available for comment. He later revealed that he plans to submit his resignation on Monday, July 7.
Photo via LinkedIn
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.
Coming 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 know 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.
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.
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.
Closed 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.
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.
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.