Forest Park vehicle owners should expect to pay more for their vehicle stickers when renewal time rolls around next month.
Commissioners all supported the suggestion to increase the vehicle sticker fee that Mayor Anthony Calderone made at Monday’s village council meeting during his report. Because the issue was not on the agenda, no vote was taken. However, Village Attorney Nick Peppers was directed to draft an ordinance to be considered at the Feb. 13 village council meeting.
In making the suggestion, Calderone pointed out that the vehicle sticker fee has remained the same since 2004. He also noted that Forest Park’s fees are lower than those of neighboring communities.
Whereas a Forest Park resident owning a passenger vehicle pays $25 for a vehicle sticker, the fees are $70 in Oak Park, $50 in Berwyn and Cicero, $45 in River Forest; and $35 in North Riverside.
The two alternatives being considered would increase the passenger vehicle sticker fee either $5 or $10. Vehicle sticker fees for most other categories — motorcycle, recreation vehicle and five truck classifications — also would increase by the same amount. Senior citizens and those with handicap license plates would see slightly lower increases and dealers would see slightly higher increases.
The $5 increase would generate an additional $46,591 and the $10 increase would generate an additional $97,216, assuming the same number of vehicle stickers is sold.
Last year, the village sold 7,800 stickers for passenger vehicles; 1,140 for seniors; 206 handicap; two for dealers; 145 motorcycles; two recreation vehicles; and 830 trucks.
In making the suggestion, Calderone said revenue growth has been hampered by the property tax cap at the same time that personnel expenses are rising, especially those related to employee pensions.
“For elected officials, it’s a tough pill to swallow,” he said, noting that even with the increase “it’s still a bargain overall.”
Commissioner Tom Mannix supported the increase, noting that increasing the fee annually by the rate of inflation would approximate the $10 increase. In fact, he advocated raising the fee annually moving forward.
He also noted that it would take years for Forest Park’s fees to match those of Berwyn and Oak Park if the village continues its current pace of increases.
Commissioner Joseph Byrnes pointed out that the estimated $37,000 the village will see in increased property taxes will not cover the salary increases granted in the new union contracts.
“We need additional money from somewhere,” he added.
Commissioner Dan Novak said he is “all in favor” of an increase but asked how the requirement to purchase is sticker is enforced.
“We know that not everybody buys a vehicle sticker,” Calderone admitted but explained that the village pursues scofflaws identified by a periodic comparison of information with the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office list of license plates issued to those with Forest Park addresses.
“It’s been a challenge forever,” he added. “The enforcement side will never end.”
Commissioner Rachell Entler termed the increase options “reasonable” and said she “does not see a real issue” with them.
The timing of the issue could delay the mailing of vehicle sticker renewal notices.
During discussion of a related issue at the Jan. 9 village council meeting, Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz said vehicle sticker renewal notices are usually mailed to residents in early February.
After Monday’s meeting, Calderone said Village Administrator Tim Gillian made the suggestion to consider raising the fees in a memo “within the last couple of weeks.”
Despite the additional time constraints, Moritz told the council members Monday, “We can make it happen.”