City Clerk Mendoza To Fight Mayor’s Proposed City Sticker Fee Hikes
Plan Increases Sticker Fee For 355,000 Vehicle Owners
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.”