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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Board reconsidering one-time increase in vehicle license fee

Monday, December 23, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors is reconsidering its earlier decision to increase the annual vehicle fee next year to make up for the loss associated with the current year's fee.

The board eliminated the annual vehicle decal, and the county now charges a vehicle license fee so that the county will not lose this source of revenue. The fee for this fiscal year, $15.75, was included in personal property tax bills, which were due on Dec. 5.

The fee was a reduced amount from the usual $25 because the amount the county can charge in a calendar year cannot be more than the annual or one-year fee charged for a vehicle registration by the state. A $25 fee would have put the county $9.25 over that limit.

With the $15.75 this year, the county lost an estimated $250,000 for the current fiscal year. The April 2013 decal fee was included in last year's (fiscal year 2012-13) budget.

That's why the board voted earlier this year to increase next year's vehicle license fee to $34.25, making up the money lost this fiscal year.

But on Tuesday, the board discussed the possibility of changing that, reducing it back to the usual $25 for next year. That fee, for fiscal year 2014-15, will be included in personal property tax bills that will be due on Dec. 5, 2014.

Vincent Copenhaver, the county's finance director, said if the fee is reduced, the $250,000 in lost revenue could be recovered from the county's fund balance.

Several supervisors said many residents were confused by the changes in fees for this year and next.

"It caused unnecessary conflict and confusion," said Boone District Supervisor Ronnie Thompson.

"I would really like to see us get it back to $25," agreed board Chairman David Cundiff.

Gills Creek Supervisor Bob Camicia said the motivation for the increased fee next year was to "make the county whole" as far as consistent revenue is concerned.

But Camicia, along with all the other supervisors, voted to send the issue to a public hearing.

That hearing on whether to reduce next year's fee to $25 is tentatively set for Tuesday, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m.

On another budget matter, Copenhaver updated the board on this year's tax bills, which were due on Dec. 5.

About 95 percent of the revenue has been collected, he said, adding that he was "very encouraged" by that high percentage.

Copenhaver also said that the option given taxpayers on their tax bills to also send in money specifically for Franklin County schools has netted a total of $711.

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