More than $777,000 collected in back taxes

Published 10:41 am Friday, August 3, 2012

FRANKLIN—Roy Black isn’t in the business of selling cars.

He’s in the business of collecting delinquent taxes.

But when folks don’t pay up, the owner of Virginia Auction and Collections sells vehicles he seized to the highest bidder to cover the taxes.

“We don’t want to sell (them),” said Black, who was hired by the City of Franklin and Southampton and Isle of Wight counties to seize vehicles for which personal property taxes are owed.

“Nobody makes money when we sell a car,” he added. “Everybody gets a little bit of money, and we are trying to encourage people to pay their taxes.”

Black’s company has collected a total of more than $777,000 for the three municipalities.

Employees in three years have booted 627 vehicles in Isle of Wight County, which resulted in the collection of $564,086 in back-taxes, said Chief Deputy Treasurer Dahlis Atkins.

As of mid-July, 327 vehicles had been seized in Southampton County and $136,662 had been collected in taxes since initiating the program in late May 2011, said Treasurer David Britt.

In Franklin, Virginia Auction booted 259 vehicles in 14 months, while the city collected $76,354 in taxes, said Treasurer Dinah Babb.

The treasurers send their delinquent lists to Virginia Auction. Using license-plate readers equipped with the treasurers’ information, Virginia Auction employees scan cars in parking lots, driveways and streets.

Once the reader locates a license plate matching a delinquent account, the agent verifies the vehicle’s identification and boots the car.

The agent also places a warrant explaining the seizure on the vehicle. A note is left for the owner to call the treasurer’s office to settle the tax account.

If payment is made before the close of business that day, the vehicle is not towed; the only cost is $30 to have the boot removed and a 20 percent collection fee.

An auction with 12 vehicles scheduled for today, Aug. 3, has been postponed. It will be held later this month from a fenced-in lot at Sachs Avenue behind Bobby’s Muffler & Tire Center off Armory Drive in Franklin. The date will be announced.

The newest vehicle is a 2002 Ford Ranger.

No minimum bids are placed on vehicles. Proceeds go toward taxes and penalties first, and then to Black for his expenses. Anything left over goes to the former owner of the vehicle.

Black noted that the treasurers give people ample time to work with them.

“The goal is not to sell anyone’s car,” he said. “We want them to pay their taxes.”