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Year-Round Vehicle Sticker Sales Get Initial City Council Approval

By Mike Brockway | April 4, 2013 10:31am

CITY HALL — After selling vehicle stickers the same way for more than 100 years, it looks like Chicago is ready to change.

The City Council's Licensing Committee on Wednesday approved City Clerk Susana Mendoza's proposal to change to year-round vehicle sticker sales.

"The Cubs and city stickers have something in common," Mendoza said. "The Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908 and we haven't changed the city-sticker sales process since 1908."

Chicago vehicle owners now must renew their city stickers from June 1-30 every year, but have until July 15 until the city starts writing $200 tickets for expired or missing stickers.

Mendoza said the stickers were started as a licensing system for horse-drawn carriages and eventually carried over to autos. Mendoza said when she first came into office, she questioned why sticker sales always occurred in June.

"I was told, 'Because that's the way we've always done it,'" she said. "Frankly, it was very inefficient."

Under Mendoza's plan, stickers will still be sold this year with the June 30 deadline. The clerk's office will spend the year publicizing the change to the program and working with the Illinois Secretary of State's Office to track all vehicles registered to city residents.

Once the new system takes effect, city stickers would expire six months after a vehicle owner's Illinois license plate sticker expires.

Starting in June 2014, motorists can buy prorated stickers to cover the period until their stickers expire under the new system.

"By the end of 2015, everyone in the city will be on the new schedule," Mendoza said. "It behooves us to make sure a change of this magnitude is not rushed."

Senior citizens, though, would be able to buy their city stickers on the June-to-June schedule even after the new system is implemented.

One of the reasons for the change is to reduce the time vehicle owners have to spend in line buying city stickers.

Also, the stickers will no longer be designed by schoolchildren through a city contest, the clerk's office told DNAinfo.com Chicago in December.

"I equate the experience [of buying a city sticker in person] with being in a line at Great America," Mendoza said. "But at the end of the line there isn't a fun ride, but a tax you have to pay.

"We have made it very difficult for people to buy that city sticker. People shouldn't have to take time off from work to go down to the City Clerk's office to buy a city sticker."

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th), chairwoman of the licensing committee, said that's a good reason for the change.

"What's really good about it is we'll cut down on these massive lines we have every year," Mitts said.

City Clerk spokeswoman Kristine Kappel said most city stickers are bought around June. The new system would spread sales more evenly throughout the year.

"Instead of selling 1.3 million stickers in 60 days, it breaks down to about 100,000 per month," Kappel said.

Mendoza said motorists would have until the 15th of every month to buy and display their stickers before ticketing starts. Stickers cost $85 per year for cars, $135 for larger vehicles like SUVs and $200 for small trucks.

The plan will now go before the full City Council on Wednesday.