Almost half of Forest Park’s registered vehicles are in violation of a local ordinance this week after the deadline for purchasing a 2007 municipal sticker lapsed at the end of the March.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, 10,457 vehicles were registered in Forest Park just days before the March 31 deadline passed. However, only 5,809 stickers were purchased from village hall, according to an assistant in the village clerk’s office.
Though the number of apparent violations may seem high, village officials saw a similar lack of compliance in 2006. In that year, only 7,725 stickers were purchased for locally owned trucks, cars, ATVs and motorcycles.
“A lot of people frankly don’t comply with the requirement of getting a sticker for every vehicle,” Village Administrator Mike Sturino said.
The overwhelming majority of the revenue generated from local registration stickers comes from passenger vehicles at $25 each. In 2006 and 2007, these stickers accounted for roughly 80 percent of the tickets sold.
While the fee isn’t particularly high–Oak Park charges $45–drivers forked over $159,825 for the stickers last year. The next largest amount raised by the sale of vehicle stickers came from light-duty truck owners, who paid some $9,600 in 2006.
This year, some 2,300 fewer stickers were sold for passenger vehicles, bringing $112,500 into the village’s coffers. Only 45 percent of the people who purchased truck stickers in 2006 met the deadline for their 2007 stickers. At $30 each, Class B sticker sales brought in $4,380, as of March 31.
Not purchasing a municipal vehicle sticker does put the owner at risk of being ticketed, however, such enforcement appears to have little impact on bringing owners into compliance.
For the calendar year of 2006, 1,825 tickets were issued by the Forest Park Police Department for failure to purchase a local sticker, according to village records. At face value, those fines totaled more than $124,000 but as of last month, the village had actually received only $17,951.
Only two other infractions–violating the overnight parking ban and having an invalid registration–resulted in more fines last year. The village has collected less than one-third of its fines for the overnight parking ban, and only 22 percent of the fines for invalid registrations were received.
Unpaid tickets are handled by an outside collection agency, village officials said, and that company keeps a portion of each fine as payment for its services.
“There’s really no way to send Guido and Rocco over there to shake ’em down for a $25 ticket,” Sturino said.
Sturino said he has no idea how much revenue the village is not capturing when vehicle owners fail to purchase a sticker, and challenged the accuracy of the state’s vehicle registration figures. Total registrations will fluctuate daily, Sturino said, because we live in a mobile society. He declined to speculate to what degree the secretary of state’s number is inaccurate.
Both Sturino and Mayor Anthony Calderone said a key in closing any gap is tougher enforcement. Several new “vehicle boots,” used to immobilize an automobile, have been ordered to help bring repeat offenders into compliance. Also, the village attempted to notify residents prior to the most recent deadline through a mass mailing. However, that effort was only minimally successful. Ultimately, Calderone said, the onus is on the vehicle owners to come in and purchase a sticker.
“Scout laws are problematic in every town,” Calderone said.