City to ax vehicle decals

Published 9:25 am Friday, December 18, 2009

FRANKLIN—Starting in 2011, vehicle decals will be a thing of the past in Franklin thanks to a City Council vote Monday night.

“The elimination of decals has been on the agenda for quite some time,” said Vice Mayor Raystine Johnson, who presided over Monday night’s meeting.

In October, Brenda Rickman, the city’s commissioner of the revenue, presented options for the elimination of decals to council members. A new vehicle license fee will likely be instituted and added to personal property tax bills next year to replace the decal fee.

Revenue from decal sales has been falling in recent years, but still brought in more than $140,000 last year.

Franklin resident Greg McLemore told council members Monday that he opposes a vehicle license fee.

“My concern is that this body constantly taxes the citizens for anything they feel or deem they want to,” he said. “It is not right to just charge the people. We are in hard economic times.”

McLemore said Councilman Benny Burgess’ proposal to add a few more cents to the city’s personal property tax would be a better option to replace lost revenue from decals.

However, Burgess’ suggestion would require a change in the city’s charter, which would require approval from the Virginia General Assembly.

“In the city charter, we’re limited to (a personal property tax rate of) $4.50, and that’s what we’re charging,” Burgess said.

The City Council directed staff members to bring options for consideration to make the elimination of decals “revenue neutral.”

The council’s decision does not affect decals for 2010. City residents are still required to purchase and display decals next year.