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Author Topic: Why is every road in Virginia other than in the cities maintained by VDOT?  (Read 11200 times)

tckma

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For other states where counties - and under them cities, towns, villages and townships - maintain the roads, where do the localities get their money?

As far as I can tell, for the most part in Michigan, counties get road money passed down from the state, primarily coming from gas taxes and registration fees.  Cities may get some too, I'm not sure of that.  Many cities have had to pass property tax proposals for road funds, and many local streets are paid for by special assessments on the adjacent properties.

It sounds like VA simply kept the whole pot and divvies it out by paying for roads, not by grants to local governments.

Virginia charges a property tax on vehicles, based on the vehicle's value.  (So does Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.  I'm not sure about other states)  The tax goes to the local jurisdiction.  Though, confusingly, when I lived in Virginia, I got my vehicle tax bill from Fairfax County.   The tax bill had was a line item that said "State of Virginia pays $XYZ" that was something like 75% of the tax due.

I imagine that this tax goes toward the maintenance of the roads, but I could be wrong.

New York has a better system where a tax is charged at registration time based on the vehicle's weight, rather than its value, and that tax is payable to the state.  This makes sense: heavier vehicles do more damage to the roads, not necessarily more expensive vehicles.

(Did you know there are parts of the City of Falls Church that are not part of the City of Falls Church for tax purposes but rather part of Fairfax County?  It confused the heck out of me when I lived in Falls Church.  Or Fairfax County.  I don't know where I lived.  Same confusion here in Maryland where I live in Westminster but I don't actually live in Westminster.)

oscar

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(Did you know there are parts of the City of Falls Church that are not part of the City of Falls Church for tax purposes but rather part of Fairfax County?  It confused the heck out of me when I lived in Falls Church.  Or Fairfax County.  I don't know where I lived.  Same confusion here in Maryland where I live in Westminster but I don't actually live in Westminster.)

Which part of Falls Church, exactly, is within city limits but for tax purposes is in Fairfax County?
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vdeane

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I think it comes down to how the states thing of registration.  NY considers it to be a user fee for the road system.  My impression is that many states consider it to be just another property tax.
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I think it comes down to how the states thing of registration.  NY considers it to be a user fee for the road system.  My impression is that many states consider it to be just another property tax.
Florida charges based on weight as well.. pre 1975 tags heavier cars has a w after County code... my mom had a 1968 Chrysler imperial.. huge car.  Her tag was" 2 w/w xxxx ". 2 for Duval smaller w over w to save space
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1995hoo

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The reference to the Commonwealth paying part of the tax goes back to the 1997 gubernatorial race, when Jim Gilmore won on the appeal of his "No Car Tax" campaign. It was intended to eliminate the car tax on the first $20,000 of assessed value, though the phase-out was capped if the financial impact was too high (as it proved to be). But because localities rely on that tax revenue, the Commonwealth reimburses them for the part of the tax that was phased out. So the tax bill shows the total amount of tax, minus the car tax relief, plus any local registration fee (the "decal fee" in some Virginia jurisdictions). The car tax itself is deductible on your federal taxes if you itemize. The registration fee isn't because it's a flat fee.

I think the comment about Falls Church indicates confusion about the USPS assigning Falls Church addresses to places in Fairfax County. That doesn't mean those addresses are in the City of Falls Church, though—just like the Post Office says my address in Alexandria, but I live in (and pay taxes and vote in) Fairfax County.
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oscar

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I think the comment about Falls Church indicates confusion about the USPS assigning Falls Church addresses to places in Fairfax County. That doesn't mean those addresses are in the City of Falls Church, though—just like the Post Office says my address in Alexandria, but I live in (and pay taxes and vote in) Fairfax County.

The city of Falls Church is tiny (fortunately, since it's all a speed trap), but Falls Church postal addresses extend well beyond city limits and indeed reach west of the Beltway (for example, Inova Fairfax Hospital claims a Falls Church postal address).
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1995hoo

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Which is funny about the hospital, because when I was a kid we lived behind there in Strathmeade Square and our address was Annandale.
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"You know, you never have a guaranteed spot until you have a spot guaranteed."
—Olaf Kolzig, as quoted in the Washington Times on March 28, 2003,
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SP Cook

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My read of the Virginia Code, specifically 58 1-3005, seams to say that the county/city property tax, including that on cars, is just a tax, going to the jurisdiction to spend as it wants to.  It is not a special revenue account like fuel taxes that must be spent on roads. 

I know that is how my state works.  In WV, the property tax goes 78% to the school board and 22% to the general county budget to spend whatever way the school board or county commission appropriates it to be spent. 

As to the postal address idea, not uncommon nationwide.  Thousands of places like that.  The city limits might be one thing, but the post office draws it lines totally differently (and, to the extent it is still relevant, landline phone companies draw/drew their lines differently from both).  Near where I live there is a small town called Barboursville, and 97% of people that have a Barboursville postal address do not live in the town limits.

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dvferyance

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I know this is off topic but I wanted to address my argument for the split routes in Indiana still being signed as a state highway. So Chicago can maintain roads that are signed a state highway. If so Indiana could do the same because it's being done elsewhere.

In Virginia, that is standard operating procedure for primary system routes (including bannered business and alternate roues) that pass through cities and towns.   They are maintained by the municipality, but are still (supposed to be) signed as a state or U.S. route.

Some Virginia municipalities a terrible job of signing those routes within their corporate limits.
So if it can be done In Virginia then Indiana should be able to do it as well and get rid of those split routes.
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cpzilliacus

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(Did you know there are parts of the City of Falls Church that are not part of the City of Falls Church for tax purposes but rather part of Fairfax County?  It confused the heck out of me when I lived in Falls Church.  Or Fairfax County.  I don't know where I lived.  Same confusion here in Maryland where I live in Westminster but I don't actually live in Westminster.)

Which part of Falls Church, exactly, is within city limits but for tax purposes is in Fairfax County?

Not sure about that way, but there are large areas of Fairfax County that have a "Falls Church" city name assigned by the Postal Service even though they have nothing to do with the City of Falls Church. There's a possibly apocryphal story involving WMATA operating deficits and the City of Falls Church that is at least amusing.  WMATA operating deficits for rail and bus are allocated in part by where the riders of both systems live (based on regular surveys of riders). Supposedly, the city saved an enormous amount of money by having a member of its planning staff carefully go through the survey responses and move those responses listing "Falls Church" as the "city" of residence (but with a street address outside the city) to Fairfax County (thus reducing the city share of WMATA operating deficits and increasing the county share of those deficits).

However, in the not so distant past, a large swath of Fairfax County was serviced by the municipal city water department (details here).  As part of the settlement of the water dispute between Fairfax County and the City of Falls Church, the city was allowed to annex some fairly small parcels of land (details near the end of that hyperlink).

EDIT:  To better answer Oscar's question, the  George Mason High School and Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School complexes off of Haycock Road north of Va. 7 have long been owned by Falls Church and used for city students only, but located in Fairfax County.  There were some other (small) parcels belonging to the city that were in the county as well.  As a result of the settlement of the dispute between the city and the county, the city was allowed to annex these parcels that it already owned.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 01:32:39 PM by cpzilliacus »
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tckma

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(Did you know there are parts of the City of Falls Church that are not part of the City of Falls Church for tax purposes but rather part of Fairfax County?  It confused the heck out of me when I lived in Falls Church.  Or Fairfax County.  I don't know where I lived.  Same confusion here in Maryland where I live in Westminster but I don't actually live in Westminster.)

Which part of Falls Church, exactly, is within city limits but for tax purposes is in Fairfax County?

ZIP code 22043.

I went to City Hall to register my car and motorcycle for local property tax, and was told I did not, in fact, live in Falls Church (then why does my address say Falls Church, VA 22043?).  Yet the Post Office said otherwise.  DMV allowed me to put "City of Falls Church" on my registration and driver's license, and sent me to City Hall for the local registration.  I did voter registration through DMV and voted in Fairfax County.

Similarly, my employer at the time was located in Tyson's Corner, but the postal address was Vienna, VA 22182.  That one confused me as well.

Same confusion applies to Westminster, MD 21158, though Maryland doesn't have excise tax on cars (thankfully, since it's a stupid tax that discourages the purchase of newer, safer cars).  I pay my property taxes and income taxes to Carroll County, but not to the City of Westminster, even though I live there.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2016, 03:00:51 PM by tckma »
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tckma

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My read of the Virginia Code, specifically 58 1-3005, seams to say that the county/city property tax, including that on cars, is just a tax, going to the jurisdiction to spend as it wants to.  It is not a special revenue account like fuel taxes that must be spent on roads. 

So it doesn't even go to road maintenance?  What the hell?

I wonder if that's the same in other states I've lived in (NH, MA) that charge a local excise tax.  I thought that's what excise tax was FOR.

jeffandnicole

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A Post Office's ZIP Code is supposed to have absolutely nothing to do with where one lives.  A ZIP Code is simply to assist the postal service in sorting and delivering the mail.

A lot of people interpret a ZIP code to be boundaries for municipalities or school districts (or in your case, property taxes), but in reality they have nothing to do with each other.   I've seen stories where someone moved into a town with a ZIP code that was associated with a prestigious school or something, only to find out their wonderful child will be going to a not-as-good school as they didn't live within the prestigious school district's boundaries.
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tckma

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A Post Office's ZIP Code is supposed to have absolutely nothing to do with where one lives.  A ZIP Code is simply to assist the postal service in sorting and delivering the mail.

A lot of people interpret a ZIP code to be boundaries for municipalities or school districts (or in your case, property taxes), but in reality they have nothing to do with each other.   I've seen stories where someone moved into a town with a ZIP code that was associated with a prestigious school or something, only to find out their wonderful child will be going to a not-as-good school as they didn't live within the prestigious school district's boundaries.

The ZIP code itself, yes.  But, ZIP Code 11545, for example, has addresses of "Glen Head, NY 11545" and "Old Brookville, NY 11545."  This would seem to indicate that the town name on your mail is where you live.

cpzilliacus

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A Post Office's ZIP Code is supposed to have absolutely nothing to do with where one lives.  A ZIP Code is simply to assist the postal service in sorting and delivering the mail.

A lot of people interpret a ZIP code to be boundaries for municipalities or school districts (or in your case, property taxes), but in reality they have nothing to do with each other.   I've seen stories where someone moved into a town with a ZIP code that was associated with a prestigious school or something, only to find out their wonderful child will be going to a not-as-good school as they didn't live within the prestigious school district's boundaries.

It gets more interesting in most (suburban) parts of Maryland and Virginia, because they are not usually incorporated.  Many people make the mistake of assuming that the Zip code dictates school attendance boundaries (because school districts are usually countywide or citywide, it does not mean anything in terms of school districts).  As with the smaller school districts in states like Pennsylvania, sometimes it leads to disappointment even though the districts are countywide (and Zip codes often, but not always, respect county and city lines).
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GaryV

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Which part of Falls Church, exactly, is within city limits but for tax purposes is in Fairfax County?

ZIP code 22043.

I went to City Hall to register my car and motorcycle for local property tax, and was told I did not, in fact, live in Falls Church (then why does my address say Falls Church, VA 22043?).  Yet the Post Office said otherwise.  DMV allowed me to put "City of Falls Church" on my registration and driver's license, and sent me to City Hall for the local registration.  I did voter registration through DMV and voted in Fairfax County.

Your zip code and post office have nothing to do with what city limits your house may be inside of or outside of.

Jenison MI has a zip code (49428), a post office, and a school district, and is a CDP.  But it is an unincorporated location - it is part of Georgetown Twp.  There is no city or village of Jenison.  It's just a name made up, named after an early local family.
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lordsutch

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Not to get even further down the rabbit hole, but the USPS compiles a list of valid "city names" for each ZIP code; these need not actually correspond to the jurisdiction in which one lives, because the USPS doesn't care - for example, you could put "Memphis TN 38138" or "Germantown TN 38138" on a letter, both of which are valid city names for that zip code, and as long as the zip code was right, it would get delivered to the right place regardless of whether the street address was legally in Memphis, Germantown, or unincorporated Shelby County.

About the only way to be certain what jurisdiction(s) correspond to a particular address is tax records. Voter registration records are usually right too. The Census Bureau's records are normally right as well, but even they can be out-of-date (their boundaries are only usually updated once a year for statistical purposes).
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jeffandnicole

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A Post Office's ZIP Code is supposed to have absolutely nothing to do with where one lives.  A ZIP Code is simply to assist the postal service in sorting and delivering the mail.

A lot of people interpret a ZIP code to be boundaries for municipalities or school districts (or in your case, property taxes), but in reality they have nothing to do with each other.   I've seen stories where someone moved into a town with a ZIP code that was associated with a prestigious school or something, only to find out their wonderful child will be going to a not-as-good school as they didn't live within the prestigious school district's boundaries.

The ZIP code itself, yes.  But, ZIP Code 11545, for example, has addresses of "Glen Head, NY 11545" and "Old Brookville, NY 11545."  This would seem to indicate that the town name on your mail is where you live.

My zip code is shared by 6 different town names. I see it on junk mail all the time: regardless of the town name, if my street address and Zip is on there, it will get to me.

Really, all they need is your house number and zip+4 (12345-6789). Doent need a street name, don't need a town or state. Just those 2 items will allow a mailing to get to you.
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roadman65

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Remember NYC has only the official city name for the Borough of Manhattan.  Even though Staten Island is part of NYC, the post office gives it "Staten Island" as if its own city.  Ditto for The Bronx and Brooklyn and for Queens, the Post Office considers each neighborhood to be its own municipality such as mailing to the Elmhurst Neighborhood would use "Elmhurst, NY" on the mailing content.

I guess if you got the right zip code for Brooklyn and put down New York, NY it most likely will go there.
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Remember NYC has only the official city name for the Borough of Manhattan.  Even though Staten Island is part of NYC, the post office gives it "Staten Island" as if its own city.  Ditto for The Bronx and Brooklyn and for Queens, the Post Office considers each neighborhood to be its own municipality such as mailing to the Elmhurst Neighborhood would use "Elmhurst, NY" on the mailing content.

I guess if you got the right zip code for Brooklyn and put down New York, NY it most likely will go there.

Queens is so different because it was the westernmost towns, villages, and hamlets of Nassau County and each was able to retain its identity after unification. Brooklyn (all of it) was an independent city, while the Bronx was annexed earlier. The towns on Staten Island were dissolved with unification, but unlike Queens, the mailing address became Staten Island.
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1995hoo

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Not to get even further down the rabbit hole, but the USPS compiles a list of valid "city names" for each ZIP code; these need not actually correspond to the jurisdiction in which one lives, because the USPS doesn't care - for example, you could put "Memphis TN 38138" or "Germantown TN 38138" on a letter, both of which are valid city names for that zip code, and as long as the zip code was right, it would get delivered to the right place regardless of whether the street address was legally in Memphis, Germantown, or unincorporated Shelby County.

....

Yup. We can write ours as Alexandria, VA, or as Kingstowne, VA. I like to use the latter because otherwise people think we live in the People's Republic.

Regarding Brooklyn, I've sometimes been tempted to send something to my cousin using "Brooklyn 9, NY" instead of "11209," just to see whether it gets there.
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SP Cook

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Re: zip codes and addresses.   WV just (in spite of a pretty clear Constitutional provision that specifically prohibits it) allowed cities to start charging a sales tax.  The mechanism that they used was that the state changed the sales tax rate for zip codes associated with the various cities, so it just shows up as one tax (7% rather than 6%) and the merchant pays the state, which then (after deducting a 0.1% for its trouble) pays 0.9% to the city. 

Except this taxes 1000s of businesses outside the city limits, since the zip code zones have nothing to do with the city lines at all.  The state's half-assed solution was, "well, save your receipts and then you can mail them to the city and they will refund you the money"  like anyone would do that.

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Kentucky's property taxes are similar to what was described for West Virginia. You get one real estate tax bill in the fall with the taxes listed for all taxing bodies (county, school board, special taxing districts) and you write one check, payable to the local sheriff. Vehicle property taxes are payable when you renew your registration and the various amounts owed to each jurisdiction are listed. You write one check, payable to the local county clerk.

As for ZIP codes, it's often the case in Kentucky that residents of a rural part of one county will have a mailing or physical address with a ZIP code or city name of that in a neighboring county. Case in point -- at least one elementary school in rural Breathitt County, Ky. (county seat is Jackson, KY 41339) has a mailing address of Booneville, KY 41314, as do all the residents in that area. Yet ask them where they live, and they will say "Jackson" instead of "Booneville."

This used to cause an issue for at least one subscriber to the weekly newspaper where I worked 30 years ago. He lived in Lee County but got his mail at a rural route mailbox with an address of McKee, KY (Jackson County). He always insisted on the in-county mail subscription rate because he actually did live in Lee County although he had an out-of-county mailing address.

I've never understood why so many post offices in rural Kentucky and West Virginia are located so close together. You can pass a post office every three or four miles if you travel some routes. In fact, I think the post office for Clearfield, Ky. is located within the city limits of Morehead.
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cpzilliacus

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Except this taxes 1000s of businesses outside the city limits, since the zip code zones have nothing to do with the city lines at all.  The state's half-assed solution was, "well, save your receipts and then you can mail them to the city and they will refund you the money"  like anyone would do that.

That is crazy, and quite possibly unlawful (do not quote me on that, as I am not a lawyer and definitely not admitted to practice law in West Virginia). With geographic information system (GIS) software and an up-to-date and accurate digital representation of the municipal boundaries, it is quite easy to determine exactly which businesses are subject to that tax and which are not.  IMO, a junior GIS analyst could do that work for the entire state of West Virginia in a week or two (in large part because there are only  a finite number of municipalities in the Mountaineer State).
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cpzilliacus

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Kentucky's property taxes are similar to what was described for West Virginia. You get one real estate tax bill in the fall with the taxes listed for all taxing bodies (county, school board, special taxing districts) and you write one check, payable to the local sheriff. Vehicle property taxes are payable when you renew your registration and the various amounts owed to each jurisdiction are listed. You write one check, payable to the local county clerk.

Maryland is similar, though the check goes to the County Treasury.

County property tax bills in Maryland normally show all of those "extras," though there are some municipalities that insist on mailing out their own property tax bills (if you live in a municipality other than Baltimore City, you will likely owe property tax to the county and to the municipality, though sometimes the county tax rate is lowered somewhat because the city or town provides some services that normally come from the county).
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