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‘Tax’ eyed on vehicle owners not displaying current plates

With an eye toward recovering potential lost revenue, South Boston Town Council discussed implementing a tax on owners of motor vehicles in the town who do not display current license plates.

Using a Fairfax County ordinance as a model, town staff outlined five proposed ordinances for council’s consideration, one allowing the imposition of a local motor vehicle license plate tax in the amount of $100 upon motor vehicle owners who do not display current license plates.

The Town of South Boston finance office would determine the applicability of the license tax.

The license tax would be a flat tax and not otherwise subject to being prorated under the new ordinance and would be charged for one year, or any part of a year in which the vehicle has been determined to have taxable status in South Boston.

Exemptions include any vehicle owned by a member of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty, whether the vehicle is owned individually or owned jointly with a non-military spouse.

An exemption would not apply to vehicles leased by members of the Armed Forces.

A penalty in the amount of $250 would be imposed on a resident owner of each motor vehicle that, following the end of the first 30 days of residency in the commonwealth, is required to be registered in Virginia but which has not been so registered.

Each penalty levied would be in addition to the $100 local motor vehicle license plate tax imposed under the code, with the combined license plate tax plus penalty amounting to $350.

Town Manager Ted Daniel suggested the ordinance could be enforced with the use of a summons process before an appearance in general district court by those charged with a violation.

Councilwoman Margaret Coleman said it could be difficult to enforce the ordinance, citing possible circumstances where a vehicle registered in another state is in town temporarily, while its owner stays in town to take care of a family member or some other obligation.

Police Chief Jim Binner said he wanted to be proactive in seeking individuals who are in violation of Virginia law when it comes to the residency issue, but hinted he’d rather have the proposed ordinance examined by the town’s attorney.

Further discussion of the issue was continued to the April work session pending a review from the town’s attorney. 

Council advanced to its April 14 agenda the formal approval of the first steps toward the Washington-Coleman Housing Rehabilitation Project.

At that meeting, council will be asked to appropriate $600,000 in the 2014-15 budget for the project, all state funds, approve the housing rehab program design and adopt the housing rehab board bylaws.

In another item, council also will have to appoint two members to the rehab board, one required to be a member of council and the other a representative of the community that will not benefit from the project.

The town has received a $600,000 Community Improvement Grant from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to improve the living conditions of 14 households in the cottage community surrounding the Washington-Coleman Community Center.

The total project cost is $1,029,800.  The Department of Housing and Community Development portion is $1 million in CDBG funds with $600,000 set aside for the first phase of the contract, and $400,000 set aside for the second phase.

All households set for improvement are low-to-moderate income households, benefiting 35 persons.

Plans call for the rehabilitation of those homes and the demolishing of four dilapidated, vacant homes.

Under provisions of the multi-year project, if the town successfully executes eight housing rehab construction contracts within eight months of the date of the agreement, Department of Housing and Community Development will issue an 18-month CDBG agreement. 

Town staff has recommended Councilwoman Tina Wyatt-Younger to serve on the CORE Management Team for the project, and it also has recommended Councilwoman Coleman be appointed to serve on the Housing Rehab Board.