City Stickers Moving To Year Round Renewal

Over the course of just a few weeks every spring and summer, the Chicago City Clerk’s office sells over 1 million city vehicle stickers.

In person lines for city stickers are often long, patience is tested and in some cases tempers flare.

But this once a year tradition of purchasing a city sticker looks like it might end soon–perhaps as early as next year.

Wednesday, during City Council budget hearings, Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza told City Council members her office was working toward going to a year round sales model similar to how the Illinois Secretary of State’s office handles license plate renewals.

“…Next year, we’re looking to go to year-round city sticker sales,” said Mendoza in her opening remarks. “This is an ambitious undertaking, but everything we’ve learned up to this point demonstrates that it’s not only achievable, but will be a more convenient customer experience
with a positive budget impact. We’re confident that with your support and feedback, we can make this happen.”

The idea of year round sales has been bouncing around the City Clerk’s office for at least four years, first coming up during Miguel Del Valle’s tenure as City Clerk.

“This is something the Clerk’s Office has been considering for a while,” says City Clerk spokesperson Kristine Williams. “But Clerk Mendoza is finally pulling the trigger on it.”

Williams says the transition to this year around sales model will make things easier for everyone. Lines will be shorter, if non existent, the $70,000 a year in overtime paid to City Clerk’s staff will disappear and the annual mad rush for vehicle owners to purchase their city stickers by July 15th will end.

The Clerk’s Office still needs to hammer out all the details of converting from the current sales model to a year around one according to Williams.

“It’s all being worked through right now and it’s a lot of work,” said Williams.

Going year round, the over 1.3 million city stickers would break down to about 100,000 sticker renewals per month according to Williams. Tentatively, a driver’s city sticker would have to be renewed six months after the month of their license plate renewal. Williams says this would spread out the financial strain of having to pay for a city sticker and license plate renewal at the same time. It would theoretically space out those same costs for households with multiple vehicles.

“Lots of people struggle to buy their city stickers,” says Williams. “It’s not an inexpensive tax so we’re looking at options to spread out the tax cost.”

According to Williams, in order to accomplish this goal City Clerk staff has been consulting with Jesse White’s office on the best way to transition to the year round model.

“We’re meeting with them on a regular basis and they’re giving us a lot of ideas,” said Williams. “We’re also looking to aldermen and the public for input. We know its good for Chicago drivers–it’s a win-win for everyone.”

12 Responses to City Stickers Moving To Year Round Renewal

  1. CL says:

    I don’t like this. I think this is just going to make it harder to remember to buy a sticker (so many people forget the currently even with the news media reminders, and those reminders would no longer happen if there wasn’t just one deadline) — while also making it harder to enforce. The lines aren’t a problem if you plan ahead or use Currency Exchange.

  2. David says:

    Its a solution to a non-existent problem which creates more problems. Right now enforcement is pretty easy. Is it the right sticker or not. Now you will have to have at least two stickers in use (by drivers as a whole) at one time and you cannot tell just by looking at the sticker whether or not it has expired. The internet and the like have eliminated many of the lines. As for the cost, its like Insurance. If you can’t afford it, you probably should not have a car. In the City of Chicago, for the most part, you can survive without a car (well until the next round of CTA cutbacks).

  3. Pete says:

    Get rid of city stickers. Collect the local wheel tax at license plate renewal time.

  4. Joe says:

    I don’t think enforcement will be too tough, they can just print a date on it in a big font, similar to the license plate stickers.

    However, forcing you to have it 6 months apart from the license plate is a bad idea, it is easier to remember to do everything at once. They should give you an option to pick the schedule you want to be on.

  5. DoR Employee says:

    She isn’t listening to negative points.

    She is going to screw it up next year and then in 2014 go “Oops.”

  6. David says:

    If we have to print the date in big letters on each Sticker, than the cost of the Sticker go up. Instead of one “batch” of stickers, 12 batches will have to be printed up OR the date just won’t be that big. And enforcement is still not as easy. Take the Winter time. Right now any part of the sticker showing says “okay” or “bad”. Not with the new “better” approach. You will need to be able to see a bigger patch of window. Of course, the best approach is to wrap this into the plate and cut out a whole layer of administrative costs.

  7. Pete says:

    I never thought it would happen: David and I agree on something! Yes, cut out the sticker altogether and make state and local wheel taxes due at the time of plate sticker renewal. Compliance rates would be much higher, since most people do not drive around with an expired license plate. Enforcement costs would be much lower.

    Of course, I suspect politicians have thought of this before and rejected it. The main reason being that they like their patronage armies of sticker sales and enforcement personnel that also double as campaign workers near election time. Efficiency has never been part of the Chicago Machine.

  8. Barb says:

    What about us in the zones?? What if I moved from one zone to another in the middle of my sticker?
    Why not just have computers for people to renew their stickers while they are “in line”? They could have kiosks that do this and have people monitoring the kiosks. Also, the kiosks could have the three most popular Chicago languages (English, Spanish and Polish). I think that having them renewed in June is perfect and I do mine on the Internet. Those who don’t have the Internet and need help can go to these kiosks at the office or other locations around the city.

  9. Drew says:

    Great Points Barb.

    I suggest all those with suggestions go to the City Clerks FB site and let them know what you think.

  10. Pete says:

    Oh right, for my plan to work the zone permits would have to be separate. It wouldn’t really be practical to make them part of the license plate. So have a sticker just for residential permit parking, pay the $30 a year or whatever for the sticker, and make it optional. People like me who already pay out the ass for a reserved space in a garage would not need any sticker at all.

  11. Drew says:


    Chicago has had a Vehicle Tax Sticker requirement since at least 1919…

    It isn’t going away….

  12. Pete says:

    The CTA used fare tokens for many years, yet they were eventually replaced with a more efficient electronic system. Modernization is possible, even in Crook County government.

    Government bureaucrats need to stop bitching about lack of funds while they continue to do things in an old-fashioned inefficient way.

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