Early last week, the City Council voted unanimously to double the city’s penalty for late decals from $50 to $100. Manassas Park police plan to start enforcing the fine in coming weeks, as soon as new ticket booklets come in.
“It says it’s more cost effective to go ahead and pay your property taxes,” said Manassas Park Councilwoman Vonna L. Privett. “We felt $50 was too easy to overlook.”
The fine will be almost three times the $35 that Prince William County residents have to pay when ticketed. In Manassas, the fine for expired decals is raised from $25 to $50 if it isn’t paid within 10 days of the writing of a ticket.
Failure to renew decals, which show that personal property taxes have been paid on cars, has been a widespread problem in Manassas Park. About a third of the cars in the city had expired stickers at the end of last year, according to Debbie Wood, the city’s commissioner of the revenue.
Raising the fine was a way for the city to address the problem, Privett said.
A police ticketing blitz, however, has already taken care of most of the expired decals, Wood said.
“We’re up to 100 percent compliance,” she said.
Wood believes many local residents simply forgot or missed the city’s new deadline for renewing decals, which was moved from April 15 to Nov. 15 last year. Residents still received new stickers on April 15. But they were only good for six months.
Manassas Park’s property tax rate is standard for the area. Car owners pay $3.50 per $100, more than the $3.05 charged in Manassas but less than the $3.70 charged in Prince William County.
Because so many people are moving in and out of Manassas Park, lateness in renewing decals has always been a problem, said City Treasurer Linda Adams. And yet she doubts the higher fine will make much of a difference.
“The people who don’t have the decals are the same ones who are going to tear up the tickets and pay the consequences down the road,” she said.