City Clerk Mendoza To Fight Mayor’s Proposed City Sticker Fee Hikes

Plan Increases Sticker Fee For 355,000 Vehicle Owners

A Toyota Sienna and other minivans would be reclassified as SUVs under the Mayor's budget plan and face a $60 increase for a Chicago city sticker

Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza doesn’t want to see an increase in the fees for Chicago city vehicle stickers.

She even campaigned against raising city sticker costs.

So it wasn’t a surprise when Mendoza, minutes after Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave his budget speech to the Chicago City Council calling for, among other things, an increase in city sticker fees for larger vehicles or SUVs and trucks, she voiced strong opposition to the measure

“I am adamantly opposed to raising any city vehicle sticker fees and this is the first I have heard of any such increase,” said Clerk Mendoza, who seemed blindsided by Mayor Emanuel’s proposal. “The large passenger sticker fee was last increased in 2007 by $30. The proposed $15 sticker price increase would amount to a 12.5% price hike in only 5 years, which is unacceptable at a time when people’s pocketbooks are stretched to the maximum already.”

Mayor Emanuel’s proposal calls for increasing the fee on larger vehicles $15 from $120 to $135, raise pickup truck city stickers $20 from $180 to $200 and increase the city sticker fee for larger trucks (over 16,000 pounds) $30 from $420 to $450.

The city hopes to raise an additional $14.8 million to be used for improving street infrastructure, repairs, maintenance and to fill an additional 160,000 potholes in 2012–a 40% increase according to Department of Budget spokesperson Kathleen Strand.

Poof! Plan Transforms 200,000 Cars Into SUVs

But a huge portion of the projected $14.8 million will come from a weight reclassification of what’s considered a larger passenger vehicle, changing the definition of 200,000 Chicago vehicles from passenger vehicle to SUV.

Currently, any vehicle over 4,500 pounds must pay the higher fee. But the Emanuel administration is proposing lowering that weight standard to just 4000 pounds–a standard which will allow for a few hundred thousand vehicles to be taxed at the higher rate.

Owners of vehicles like the the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Pathfinder, Honda Pilot, Ford Explorer, BMW X3, Jeep Cherokee, Kia Sedona and Kia Sorento will see the $75 city sticker fee they paid this year nearly double to $135 in 2012.

In 2011, the City Clerk’s office says 90,000 vehicles fit the SUV classification. This proposed weight reclassification will move an estimated 200,000 vehicles from the standard city sticker rate of $75 to the higher fee–a $60 jump.

With 290,000 motor vehicles being classified as larger passenger vehicles and another 65,000 vehicles classified as trucks (both A & B plate), an estimated 355,000 of the 1.26 million total motor vehicles which purchase city stickers every year would see an increase in their sticker price.

“75% of Chicagoans will see no effect,” explains Strand who says bigger vehicles take a greater toll on city streets. “Those who drive heavier vehicles are being asked to pay a little more. We’re asking vehicle owners to pay a fair share for increasing damage they do to our roadways.”

While the Clerk and her office agree with the Mayor’s premise that heavier vehicles have a more costly impact on city streets, the Clerk’s office feels the already $120 fee is a fair one.

“I understand the city is facing a tough, unprecedented financial situation. That is why I have proposed alternative ways to raise new revenue for the city without raising sticker fees,” reinforced Clerk Mendoza. “I am currently working to secure sponsorship opportunities for the city vehicle sticker in hopes of holding the line on sticker fees.”

But the Clerk’s office is proposing other ways of raising revenue for the city.

The Clerk’s office is getting behind an increase in the fine for “failure to display” a Chicago city sticker from the current $120 to $200 to bring in revenue and convince more people to buy their stickers.

“Clerk Mendoza’s big point is why don’t we look at scofflaws,” explains City Clerk spokesperson Kristine Williams. “Why not go after the scofflaws first before you go after the law abiding citizens who buy their city sticker every year. Those are the people we should be hit with tougher penalties, not the people standing in line and buying their city stickers.”

The Clerk’s office says they were surprised by the Mayor’s plan to increase vehicle sticker prices and that no one in the Mayor’s office had reached out to their office–the city agency that administers the city sticker program–to discuss these ideas before Emanuel’s speech on Wednesday.

“This was the first we heard of it,” said Williams of the proposed hikes.

“I can’t speak to that,” said Strand when asked why the Mayor had not shared his ideas with the City Clerk.  “I can’t tell you if there’s any truth to that or not. This is just the start of a process.”

28 Responses to City Clerk Mendoza To Fight Mayor’s Proposed City Sticker Fee Hikes

  1. Kudos to the City Clerk.

  2. Drew says:

    “Why don’t we go after the scofflaws first?” Suggested Ms Williams.

    We do. Half the problem with going after scofflaws is that the City Clerks office is Missing the Boat on enforcement. Vehicles that spend an Inordinate amount of time in Locked (not accessible via a public way) parking spaces/garages/lots can not be inspected by the Police or PEA’s or City Clerks office. But they still require the Sticker by City Code.

    PEA’s and CPD do it every day on the Open Public ways..

    The City Clerks office could streamline Sticker enforcement in a simpler way and then can reduce Sticker enforcement to Improper Display for Police and PEA’s.

    The Secretary of State keeps a record of Every Vehicle that a person owns that is registered. All the City Clerks office needs to do is have a program written that goes through the SOS database and identifies all Chicago registered vehicles…motorcycles, scooters, cars, Trucks, Vans, SUV’s, Pickups, etc….business or private.

    Have the Program Cross reference every 24 hours against the List of Purchased City Stickers. Every City Sticker has a serial Number, and the vehicles should then be able to be identified by the serial and the plate number on the database.

    If your vehicle doesn’t show up on the List of vehicles that are in the database as having a City Sticker, then the system automatically issues a Citation to the vehicle plate #/vehicle type/owner and prints out to be mailed to the owner. Have the program set up to issue 2 tickets per week (Once on Tuesday and Once on Thursday with an internal adjustment set up to recognize and adjust for Federal or State holidays) per vehicle that qualifies under the scofflaw category.

    Automate the enforcement of City Sticker violations with a built in 15 day grace period set for July 1st through July 15th @ 11:59pm.

    Further more, Require from all Landlords/Condo Associations/Apt Mgnmt Agencies all vehicle plate #’s/vehicle type owned by residents after 30 days of New Occupancy. This would cover Out of State plated vehicles that do not show up in the IL SOS database or vehicles that are Registered in a Suburb by a City Resident, but then fall under the City Sticker requirement A La the 30 Day New Resident Rule.

    No one would get away with being a Sticker Scofflaw

  3. msmitch says:

    YOU GO GIRL.

  4. David says:

    Drew says:

    The Secretary of State keeps a record of Every Vehicle that a person owns that is registered. All the City Clerks office needs to do is have a program written that goes through the SOS database and identifies all Chicago registered vehicles…motorcycles, scooters, cars, Trucks, Vans, SUV’s, Pickups, etc….business or private.

    Have the Program Cross reference every 24 hours against the List of Purchased City Stickers. Every City Sticker has a serial Number, and the vehicles should then be able to be identified by the serial and the plate number on the database.

    If your vehicle doesn’t show up on the List of vehicles that are in the database as having a City Sticker, then the system automatically issues a Citation to the vehicle plate #/vehicle type/owner and prints out to be mailed to the owner. Have the program set up to issue 2 tickets per week (Once on Tuesday and Once on Thursday with an internal adjustment set up to recognize and adjust for Federal or State holidays) per vehicle that qualifies under the scofflaw category.

    My comment:
    An interesting proposal. The problem is that it would likely not be legal. You are presuming that the law being “violated” is the failure to have a City Sticker. It might well be the failure to report your move to the Secretary of State. The easy solution is to change state law and mandate the equivalent of the City Sticker to be collected as part of every plate renewal and get rid of the silly thing.

    Drew says:
    Further more, Require from all Landlords/Condo Associations/Apt Mgnmt Agencies all vehicle plate #’s/vehicle type owned by residents after 30 days of New Occupancy. This would cover Out of State plated vehicles that do not show up in the IL SOS database or vehicles that are Registered in a Suburb by a City Resident, but then fall under the City Sticker requirement A La the 30 Day New Resident Rule.

    My comment:
    I have lots of problems with this. The first is enforcability. How do you identify the “owner” of the vehicle. Does the landlord et al have to provide personal detail as well?

    Let’s consider the case of the locked single car garage rented from an owner through a management company. The management company is not legally entitled to go into the garage without a legal reason and good cause to do so. “Inspecting” for the City would not constitute a legal reason or good cause. The City cannot overcome the Constitutional Provision against unreasonable search and seizure by delegating the task to a private entity. The renter of the property has specific rights to use the property and has certain rights to privacy.

    Furthermore, it raises potential “equal protection” issues in that it discriminates against renters. A home owner with a private garage is not covered by this “informant” provision.

    Finally, its a “nose under the tent”. What’s next, requiring Landlords to maintain logs of everyone that comes and goes into a building? Require management companies to “inspect” apartments every 3 months to detect illegal activity? Require management companies to “inspect” apartments every 3 months to determine the voting preferences of the residents?

    Its a bad, and frankly, unnecessary, idea. The solution is easy. Change the State law and make it part of the license renewal.

    Drew says:
    No one would get away with being a Sticker Scofflaw

    My comment:
    Except for people that own their own garage or rent a garage from someone who isn’t a management company, Landlord or Condo Association.

  5. Drew says:

    You can’t change the State Law to include the plate and window sticker…..Its a CITY Wheel Tax Sticker.

    Its the Fee you pay Annually for the privilege to keep a vehicle of any type in this city.

    Other Cities have this as well…Park Ridge for 1 example…and Cook County also has one for Vehicles in Unincorporated areas.

    This is not just something that Chicago came up with 10 years ago…

    Chicago has had a Vehicle Sticker program since at least 1972.

  6. glg says:

    Would require a change to city ordinances, as the wheel tax applies to vehicles on the public way, with a stated presumption that vehicles in public garages got there via public way. It would be legal for a vehicle to remain parked in a private garage all year without a city sticker so long as it did not operate on the public way. Yes, I know that’s not likely, but that is how the ordinance is written.

    All this said, clerk mendoza should can it. her job is to collect, not set policy.

  7. David says:

    Drew says:

    You can’t change the State Law to include the plate and window sticker…..Its a CITY Wheel Tax Sticker.

    My Comment:

    Sure you can. The State could pass the following law:

    No City, County, or other municipal unit shall impose any annual tax or fee on any motor vehicle.

    The State of Illinois shall impose on every vehicle licensed by the state an annual fee of $125 per year, which fee shall be collected concurrent with the annual vehicle license renewal. Such fee shall be transferred to the municipal unit in which the registrant resides.

    It’s a lot more efficient to do it this way and it avoids many enforcement issues. States pass laws all of the time that restrict smaller political subdivisions from taking certain actions.

  8. BXK says:

    This is so dirty. Deliberately leave out that little change in weights but talk up the idea as if its the fee increase and not the weight change where the majority of the money comes from. And if heavy cars do so much damage, why to the CPD roll around in Chevy Tahoes? Those are 5000lb+ vehicles. They also emit a lot more carbon with those big engines too. Oh, that’s right, the police are extra special people, with magic ability to not damage roads, and extra skills that allow them to talk while driving and carry guns the rest of us can’t.

    more more more more.

    Remember, “fees” aren’t “taxes” by some crazy politician reasoning.

    You know how much it costs to register a car in Idaho? $35-$60 a year. That’s it. In IL, you pay your $99 to the state $75 to the city, pay the highest gas prices in the country (mostly due to fuel tax and sales tax on fuel), you pay the toll authority, and I’m sure a host of other taxes/fees I can’t even think of. Particularly in the city of Chicago, our roads are falling apart, with more people paying into the system at a far higher rate, and getting WHAT exactly out of it? How can other states and cities have more while taking less? How can a state of 1.5 million people and a population density that is minuscule when compared to Chicago get by supporting its road and transportation needs on $60 a year while they can’t do it here on 3x that amount before adding in the extra they take for fuel and tolls?

    I suppose my point is that this is just more take take take take take from the IL government that gets us NOTHING substantial in return. They waste it away then just take more when they need it.

    Slowly but surely, it just pushes away people that can leave, it hurts poor people who already can’t pay their slew of ridiculous city fees and taxes and turns them into criminals, and it doesn’t change politicians behavior.

    How did it ever become acceptable for them to simply decide to take more of the public’s money??!! They don’t even bat an eye.

    Its disgusting. And it isn’t this 1 single thing that’s disgusting, its the entire thing from income taxes, to hotel, restaurant, rental car, permits, fuel, registration, parking tickets, etc etc etc. Add it up and it becomes pretty significant. Keep pushing and you will end up with a city like Detroit or Cleveland…all the government handout takers and nobody to take money from to pay the bill.

  9. Drew says:

    David…in 1979 the Illinois Constitution was amended giving Home Rule Status to all Municipalities with more than 25,000 registered residents.

    Home Rule gives these “several cities” the Legal Right to amend/enforce or Ignore State Regulations at they see fit.

    Example?

    Chicago enforces a Zero Tolerance on Window Tint.
    State law is 35% or less is allowed.

  10. David says:

    Laws (and the State Constitution) can be changed. Home Rule is not unfettered. To make it “State-Wide” would certainly require a change in the law. That being said, as cars are mobile objects and regularly move in and out of the City of Chicago, it makes sense that it should not be covered by home rule.

    It won’t happen because too many politicians get too much “patronage” from all of the unnecessary jobs (Adding it to the license gets rid of a lawyer of employees at the City Clerk’s Office, it gets rid of a chunk of business for the “currency exchanges”, it gets rid of the contract to make the “stickers”, it reduces the number of people needed to “enforce” city stickers because of fewer violations. In sum, its an example of a “real” savings for Government, rather than one of those “false” savings often proposed by the Tea Party in which a vital service provided by the Government without a profit motive is shifted to a private service with the added profit.

  11. Drew says:

    States can not stop a City government from requiring a Vehicle Tax sticker inside that cities border for its cities residents.

    The simple solution is to sell your car/truck/van………..

  12. The Parking Ticket Geek says:

    WOW BXK!

    Awesome!

  13. Drew says:

    David…if you can get a 2/3′s majority in both State House and Senate to agree to remove the Home Rule Language from the Constitution AND make a Vehicle Sticker required by Each City for X amount of money…

    Get me elected cause you are a political genius.

    Until that time….I agree about the patronage comments.

  14. Greg says:

    I have never understood how it is determined if a car parked on a city street is owned by a Chicago resident or not. Do PEAs, etc actually run the plate of EVERY car they see without a city sticker to determine if the owner lives in Chicago or not? Seems like that would take an enormous amount of time.

    And Dave – I live in a town that doesn’t require a city sticker. You are suggesting I should now have to pay $125 for a vehicle sticker to make it easier for big cities that do require them?

  15. Drew says:

    Greg…

    The Auto Cite computer that PEA’s carry have a Search Feature.
    PEA’s also have 5 numbers to call on their city Nextel’s that are Dedicated to the background checks of License plates and VIN numbers.
    PEA’s also have the Police Dispatchers to check plates if needed by direct connection.

    Police have Data Terminal Toughbook Laptops in their squad cars….Computers that are internet connected via the 4g Network in Chicago…PEA Supervisors also have the same type of Computer systems in their vehicles….as does the Revenue Department of Security.

    The City Clerks office have employee’s that do nothing but drive Ser Co contractors around all day every day on Plate Check duties also with those Laptops in their cars.

  16. Greg says:

    Drew -

    I understand how they do it – but that still doesn’t answer my question:

    Do they check every car that doesn’t have a city sticker?

    Do these Serco folks actually spend the entire day running plates on every car they see without a sticker?

    If so, no wonder they all seem like idiots – they are probably losing their mind from doing that all day.

  17. DoR Employee says:

    Okay…I see what you’re getting at.

    Not being able to speak for anyone but myself….No…

    I don’t spend all day running the plate on Every car or truck or motorcycle or motor scooter I see that doesn’t have a City Sticker displayed.

    The reason being that I am also looking for Other violations, like Expired Plates or the like. If something smells about the car, I will run the plate though.

  18. Pete says:

    Wow, what a productive use of resources (having employees check registration of vehicles and looking for stickers). EVERY other state in the nation does not have these stupid revenue stickers. Just do the common-sense thing and collect the local wheel tax at registration time. As long as the license plate has been renewed, the fees have been paid. Then all of the sticker administration patronage jobs can be eliminated.

  19. DoR Employee says:

    Pete….

    The Wheel tax varies from city to city and some cities in Illinois don’t even charge one.

    How would you go about ensuring that the State made sure the correct City got the correct amount of money?

  20. David says:

    DoR Employee says:

    The Wheel tax varies from city to city and some cities in Illinois don’t even charge one.

    How would you go about ensuring that the State made sure the correct City got the correct amount of money?

    My Comment:
    My Answer would be charge a uniform tax for all vehicles in the State. What-ho you say, Chicago has lots more streets and lots more repairs than say, Centralia. True. Chicago also has more people. The people in Alton, however, certainly need that real expensive bridge over the Mississippi. Its not a Toll Bridge. Those of us in Chicago, however, fund OUR major bridge (the Skyway) with tolls.

    Just as importantly, the roads in Chicago are not driven in ONLY by residents of Chicago. Anyone can drive on them. And everyone benefits from them to the extent that the Economy of the State is tied, to a large extent to Chicago and Cook County.

    Or would the Centralian’s (and the Evanstonians, and the Skokians) prefer a “city parking tax” in which anyone without a Chicago Sticker has to pay a fee to park their car in the City of $5.00 per day. This could be purchased from the meter boxes or collected by garages where, if you do not have a City Sticker, you paid an extra $5.00.

    Get rid of the sticker administration, save money for everyone and put the money collected to actual use.

    (And I have read the Home Rule provision. It has certain limitations. It may well be that the State could adopt legislation, without changing the Home Rule Constitutional provision, which could have the State take over the city sticker function as part of the sale of plates.

  21. DoR Employee says:

    Not bad David..not bad..

    The Problem remains that with the Home Rule clause….cities could still issue and require their Own Variant City Sticker.

    And please remember….this is Chicago….Springfield tends to do what the Mayor says.

  22. Pete says:

    So you have the localities supply their wheel tax rates to the state and they send out the renewal notice with that amount listed, in addition to the state fee. Computers would make this really easy, even a state government employee could handle it. The only losers would be the patronage employees who administer the archaic sticker programs.

  23. Drew says:

    And here is something that makes me like this idea….

    It becomes a State Law violation then. Vehicles can be impounded for the lack of a sticker..or just booted.

    Because you know Chicago will do something to ensure we can make a Mint off the scofflaws.

  24. [...] On the surface, it was easy to shrug off the notion. But what the Mayor failed to make clear was that the city would also lower the weight for this heavier vehicle classification from the current 4500 pounds to 4000. [...]

  25. conrado garcia says:

    the real street destoriers,are CTA bus,s not suv s. drive down any street with bus service, and you will see a street ,crumbleing sewer,and curbs.deep ruts , and huge pot holes all caused by CTA bus,s an M1 TANK has a smaller wt. per. sq. than a CTA bus .it is a joke , to blane suv drivers for this ,when the CTA bus is causeing the desturction of chicago streets

  26. Bob says:

    Does anyone know why pick ups with 4drs and suburbans that have almost the same gvwr don’ t pay the same price for a city sticker?

  27. Dave says:

    Anyone know if I have to buy a city sticker for a car that I don’t drive? It is in my garage, I own it, but it is never driven. Also, do I have to pay for license plate stickers and registration?

  28. Angry says:

    Or, you could just do away with useless city employees spending time on ridiculous tasks such as policing City Stickers. The stickers themselves are just another form of tax by corrupt and greedy people running this town. I pay enough fees already to have a car here.. A city sticker is just another joke fee that I don’t need.

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