Decals coming back to county

Published 8:40 am Friday, November 20, 2009

COURTLAND—County decals may have been axed in August, but Southampton County residents will soon be placing another decal on their windshields — in an attempt to save the county money.

“Since we’ve done away with the county sticker, we’re coming up with a permanent refuse sticker that we will be mailing out in January,” said Treasurer David Britt.

The new decals are intended to identify people using the county’s dumpsites as county residents.

According to Britt, there was an immediate cost savings once the county began manning dumpsites, and the county wants to ensure that only county residents are using the sites, especially considering the high tipping fees for the Southeastern Public Service Authority.

“The reason for that refuse sticker is to help monitor the illegal dumping at our sites so we can keep control of our costs to SPSA,” Britt said.

Households with more than one vehicle will receive two stickers, and additional stickers will be available through the treasurer’s office and town offices in the county.

“It’s going to look similar to the old county sticker, and it’s going to go in the same spot,” Britt said. Unlike the county decals, the sticker is permanent. There will be no cost for the sticker through June 30; however, the county will impose a $1 fee for replacement stickers and a $5 fee for new residents starting July 1.

“We kind of played around with a bunch of ideas, and this is what we thought would be the most feasible idea,” Britt said.

He said he worked with County Administrator Michael Johnson and Assistant County Administrator Jay Randolph to come up with the idea.

As Southampton County residents receive their personal property tax bills in the coming days, they will notice a few changes — most notably the addition of a $23 fee for each vehicle to replace the decal fee.

“In the future it’s going to hopefully be a cost savings to the county because we’re eliminating one mailing,” Britt said. In the past, the county mailed out tax bills and then sent out another mailing for decals.

Tax bills will also have a new look. Real estate tax bills will be printed on green paper with black print and personal property tax bills will be printed on blue paper with black print.

“It gives it better readability,” Britt said. All county tax bills have been mailed out as of Monday, and real estate and property taxes are due Dec. 5.

Britt acknowledged the impact of job losses caused by the closure of the International Paper Co. mill, as well as other local businesses on citizens ability to pay their tax bills.

“That’s impacting a lot of the citizens here in Southampton County,” he said. “I will work with them in setting up payment plans if they so desire, because I know that there’s a lot uncertainty for those people … so I want to try work with them and try to help them along the best way I can.”

Citizens interested in setting up a payment plan should contact the treasurer’s office to set up an appointment.

“I’ve already had a number of people to come in and ask (about payment plans),” Britt said.