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Tags Were A Pain In The Glass

FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville is taking the pain out of the pane.

Town Council took the necessary steps last week for the counties of Cumberland and Prince Edward to begin collecting Farmville's annual vehicle license tax.

The Town of Farmville, which has seen purchases of the vehicle decals plummet, will pay the counties a collection fee.

Both Cumberland and Prince Edward will begin including the Town's annual license tax in their own personal property tax notices and forward those monies on to the Town treasurer.

There will be no more vehicle decals to scrape off and put on windshields every year.

Farmville officials believe the change will produce more revenue for the Town and at a greater convenience to Town residents who actually paid the tax. Many people, officials believe, found it too difficult to scrape off an old decal to accommodate the new one and so simply decided not to purchase a new year's vehicle decal.

“The problem is, I rode down Main Street the other day and four vehicles passed me and every one of them,” Town Manager Gerald Spates told council members, “had old Town decals and there was one parked in front of the bank with old Town decals.

“So,” Spates said of many town residents' attitude toward paying this tax by purchasing the annual decal, “they're not buying them.”

Prince Edward County is sending out its personal property tax notices, Spates noted, “and it's important we get this done prior to them sending out those tax notices.”

Council members unanimously rescinded the two ordinances necessary to accommodate the new tax payment procedure.

According to Spates, the Town is working on an agreement with both Prince Edward and Cumberland “on a percentage they will charge us” to collect the Town's tax on behalf of Farmville. “We're looking at probably ten percent, a collection fee for them to collect it for us…I think we'll work it out equitably.”

Spates pointed out that with the old vehicle decal system “we pay over 2,600 bucks every year just to buy those tags and this year we haven't sold many at all.”

The Town has been buying the tags, or decals, but residents with vehicles have not.

Council member Donald L. Hunter asked Spates how much the Town normally collects each year through sale of the vehicle decals and was told “roughly $60,000.”

The Town gives the Prince Edward County Volunteer Rescue Squad $5 for every vehicle decal sold and Farmville will continue to make a contribution, which should rise above the $13,000 to $15,000 average of recent years because virtually everyone should begin paying the tax.

Town officials see the new vehicle tax collection system working well.

“This makes it a whole lot simpler. You get your tax ticket, your personal property ticket, you pay it and you don't have to put a tag (decal) on. A lot of people don't like putting tags on a vehicle,” Spates told Town Council regarding the front windshield placement.

Though taking the pain out of the pane, there may be some speed bumps as Town residents adjust to the new system because not every Town resident will be paying the same rate, according to Spates, because some live in Cumberland and others in Prince Edward.

“Now the only drawback you're going to hear, you're going to hear (some) people complain about it. Cumberland County's tax rate is a little bit cheaper than Prince Edward's,” Spates noted. “People in Cumberland won't pay as much as people in Prince Edward.”

Others may complain that they will be paying the tax in Prince Edward too early and argue for pro-ration, which the Town is not prepared to embrace.

“Our tags go on sale in April. The County's sending out the tickets now, which is actually for 2011. We sell ours for 2011 in April, so there's a three or four month difference there…” Spates said.

Town Council members, however, believe the public will be accepting of the new system.

“I don't see it being a problem,” council member Tommy Pairet said.

And there is that revenue increase to take the sting out of any complaints that might surface.

“It's going to make it easier for us and we'll probably get better collections,” Spates said.

Nor was he alone in that view.

“I think it's probably going to be an increase in what we collect,” agreed Hunter, with Pairet vigorously seconding that emotion.

“Oh gosh, I bet it will be 25 to 30 percent more (revenue),” Pairet exclaimed.

“Exactly, because you don't have to worry about people not coming in to get their tags,” Hunter continued. “…This way, we're going to be able to get everyone that has a vehicle that's registered in the Town of Farmville.

Enthused Pairet about the revenue increase: “It's going to be incredible.”