Experts Weigh In On Mayor’s SUV City Sticker Math
With Mayor Rahm Emanuel desperately trying to figure out any possible way to generate more revenue for a cash starved city, he proposed the brilliant idea of raising the cost of city stickers $15 on heavier passenger vehicles last week.
On the surface, it was easy to shrug off the notion because only people with those evil gas guzzlers would be affected. 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.
This added a whole heckuva lot more cars to the SUV class with nearly 200,000 more vehicles paying almost double of what they paid this year. Cars like the Ford Taurus, the Ford Explorer and mini vans like the Toyota Sienna.
The main argument the city made in defense of this proposal was that heavier vehicles–even ones as light as 4000 pounds–are more damaging to city streets because of their weight.
Tribune writer Steve Chapman looked into the city’s assertion and found out that there is absolutely no basis for this argument. Chapman actually contacted the author of a study the Mayor’s Office used as the basis for their claim. Much to the chagrin of the Mayor, Professor Anthony Rufolo of Portland State University says there’s no difference in the wear and tear of a modern road between a 3000 pound and 4500 pound vehicle.
In fact, modern asphalt roads are designed to hold up to vehicles weighing much more–like semi-trailer trucks.
Chicago Magazine’s Whet Moser also did some looking into this subject and discovered back in 2003, the city actually lowered the weight threshold for the SUV class from 5000 pounds to 4500 pounds.
So less than 10 years later the Mayor wants the city to lower the standard again.
Moser dug up more dirty asphalt secrets to refute the Mayor’s plan citing a story from the Sun-Times in 2003 which quoted a professor from IIT who said you’d only start seeing perceptible differences in road damage at double the weight of SUV class vehicles.
As it stands now, the city council seems overwhelming opposed to the city sticker price increase with 75% against the measure according to one alderman.
City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who’s opposed to the fee increase as well, will be before the city council for budget hearings on Thursday morning to discuss this issue and propose her ideas on how to raise revenue for the city.
Read Chapman’s full account, “Rahm’s sticker hike,” and Moser’s piece, “Chicago’s SUV Tax and Road Damage: Do the Numbers Add Up?“