Ditch city decals

Published 7:38 am Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Everyone should try to get the most for their money. Government is no exception.

That’s why Franklin should follow the lead of Southampton and Isle of Wight counties and many other counties and cities in Virginia and do away with the antiquated practice of issuing and requiring vehicle decals.

The city would save thousands of dollars every year in postage and printing costs if it decided to ditch vehicle decals. Conversely, the city would make thousands of dollars every year by imposing a license tax on all vehicles, not just the ones that are on the road.

Franklin has access to the same tools as Southampton and Isle of Wight to ensure compliance. Among these tools are the ability to freeze DMV transactions, impose tax liens and distress warrants and intercept state tax refunds and lottery winnings.

Decals used to have the effect of shaming people into paying their personal property taxes. That’s no longer the case, though, since nearly every locality has abandoned the practice. People’s eyes aren’t drawn to the bottom center of windshields anymore. The eyes of the police don’t go there either. This isn’t a bad thing, though. Our police have more important things to do than chase after people for not paying their vehicle taxes. Enforcement should be the dominion of the city’s Department of the Revenue.

Franklin has the means to collect vehicle taxes in less expensive and time-consuming ways. By ditching vehicle decals, it would be getting more for its money.