CHICAGO — City Clerk Susana Mendoza announced an early start to sales for Chicago's annual city vehicle sticker Wednesday at City Hall.
"We are now open for business!" said Mendoza. "We are starting about two weeks before the traditional June 1 kickoff date."
Mendoza said that 1.3 million city sticker renewal notices had already been mailed, the online sales website was live and ready to take orders and drivers who wanted to purchase their stickers in person could do so at any sales location.
However, this will be the last year for the long-lived tradition as Mendoza's office will transition to a year-round model, which begins in June 2014.
"This will be the last year you will buy a city sticker on a June to June basis," she said. "Two years into my term we are changing to a year-round system and I say good riddance."
Mendoza said the current sales period for city stickers had been in place since 1908 — the "horse and buggy" era — and it needed to be replaced by a more efficient system. Mendoza believes the new sales model will dramatically diminish lines to purchase stickers, which often snake out the front of city sales locations.
The clerk said part of this year's transition process was for drivers to provide their car's vehicle identification number or VIN when they purchase this year's sticker.
"It will allow us to assign your new renewal month," said Mendoza. "It's absolutely critical you provide it."
Year-round city sticker sales will be similar to how Illinois vehicle owners renew their license plate stickers, but Mendoza said she didn't want people stuck with two fees at the same time. The city will use the VINs to determine when plate stickers expire, and the city sticker will need to be purchased six months from that date.
For example, if a car's license plate sticker expires in January, a Chicago city sticker will have to be purchased by the end of June.
The June-to-June renewal schedule will remain for people over 65 years old.
"Will there possibly be hiccups along the way? Of course, we're human," said Mendoza. "We don't anticipate any problems but we're asking for patience and support in this transition."
The fee for city stickers for most passenger vehicles is $85, while larger passenger vehicles like SUVs will cost owners $135.
Drivers must purchase and display their city sticker by July 15, or face a possible $200 fine.