Drivers in Forest Park should be receiving notices in the mail – if they haven’t already – reminding them that they have until the end of the month to comply with a municipal ordinance.

Cars and trucks registered with the secretary of state’s office to a village address must annually be affixed with a locally issued sticker, and March 31 marks the last day to do so without incurring late fees. Most passenger vehicles in the community will be assessed a $25 charge for the sticker. Registration fees for commercial trucks, motorcycles and recreational vehicles will vary.

Roughly two weeks after the deadline, motorists who have not complied can be charged an additional $5 for every month they are late. However, Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz said the system is not meant to be punitive and late arrivals are often given a grace period of a few days.

“I know it’s hard for people to get in [during business hours], especially if they work downtown or in the suburbs,” Moritz said.

To that end, the clerk’s office will be open for extended periods this month to accommodate last minute registrants. On March 27 and 28, the front desk at village hall will be open until 7 p.m. Also, said Moritz, the clerk’s office will open on Saturday, March 29 from 9 a.m. to noon. During a similar period of extended hours last year, residents were lined up out the door for several hours, said Moritz.

Vehicle owners may also purchase stickers through the mail or drop off their renewal forms in the overnight deposit box at village hall, located at 517 Desplaines Ave.

According to a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office, there are more than 10,500 vehicles registered in Forest Park.

In 2007, village officials reported that only 5,800 stickers had been purchased prior to the March 31 renewal deadline. But since April 1, 2007, thousands more stickers were sold, bringing the total number of current vehicle stickers in Forest Park to 8,315, said Moritz.

In 2006, slightly more than 7,700 vehicle stickers were purchased.

The village does not compare its local registration figures to the secretary of state’s registration statistics. According to Moritz, it’s unlikely that the state’s information is entirely accurate, assuming that residents don’t immediately report changes to their address.

The municipality has not set a target for compliance with the local ordinance, either with absolute figures or percentages, said Moritz.

Some 9,000 renewal notices have been sent to residents. Roughly 1,000 of those were returned by the U.S. Postal Service as being invalid addresses, she said.

Correction

A March 12 story on the annual renewal of vehicle stickers ("Motorists facing annual deadline for local stickers," page 5) incorrectly reported that a penalty for tardy renewals will be enforced two weeks after the deadline of March 31. Late fees may be assessed immediately in accordance with local ordnances.