Details of 2014 Decal-Art Competition Unveiled

Sun Gazette

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Darren Nelson holds the 2013 Arlington County decal, which highlights the USS Arlington. Nelson will be the first commander of the Arlington upon its commissioning in April. Washington-Lee High School student Ben Jenks designed the decal. (Photo by Deb Kolt)

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Darren Nelson holds the 2013 Arlington County decal, which highlights the USS Arlington. Nelson will be the first commander of the Arlington upon its commissioning in April. Washington-Lee High School student Ben Jenks designed the decal. (Photo by Deb Kolt)

Ah, the scenes of autumn: Falling leaves, football tailgating … and student artists eager to see their work on the following year’s county tax decal.

The 2014 tax-decal design competition, sponsored by the county treasurer’s office, has begun. And this year, students will be able to submit a design on any Arlington-related theme they’d like.

That wasn’t the case a year ago, when the treasurer’s office asked participants to relate their designs to the USS Arlington, the Navy ship that was commissioned in the spring. Washington-Lee High School student Ben Jenks won the competition, with his submission appearing on more than 160,000 windshields of vehicles garaged in the county.

Other finalists for 2013 were Ben Tobin of Washington-Lee as well as Kira Tucker and Isabel George of Wakefield High School.

The contest is open to Arlington students in grades 9-12. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 2.

“The competition gives students the opportunity to utilize their design skills in a real-world application, as well as participate in the workings of their local government,” the treasurer’s office said in a statement. “The winner and runners-up will have a truly unique accomplishment to highlight on their resumés and college applications.”

And it won’t just be about bragging rights: The winner of the competition will get a $2,000 prize. Finalists will receive $1,000.

A panel of community notables will gather in early December to select four finalists from the submissions, then public voting will take place through the county government’s Web site and the Sun Gazette. Each year, several thousand votes are cast.

The winning entry will be announced at a County Board meeting in late January.

The new decals will start being distributed next summer, and will be required to be placed on vehicles by November. Affixed next to the state inspection decal, the stickers help police and parking-enforcement officers determine if the personal-property tax on vehicles has been paid.

The design will measure approximately 1.5 inches in height and 2.25 inches in width when printed on the sticker.

Beginning in 1949, the county government required metal strips to be attached to license plates. In 1967, the government shifted to windshield decals.

In 2002, the treasurer’s office began holding a community vote on the design, and three years later, limited entries to local high-school students.

While some Virginia localities, notably Fairfax County, have opted to do away with the tax decal (although not the fee that comes with it), most jurisdictions retain them in order to see who has paid the annual personal property tax on vehicles, better known as the “car tax.”

Specific details on the competition are available on the treasurer’s portion of the county government Website.

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