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FRG looks to do away with vehicle stickers

FOX RIVER GROVE – Vehicle stickers may become a thing of the past in the village.

Village officials are exploring ways to eliminate the hassle of paying a yearly sticker fee and replace it with a street maintenance fee on utility bills, another village bill or on a trash bill.

The vehicle sticker program brings in $60,000 to $65,000 a year for street maintenance.

Stickers in Fox River Grove cost $20 each. For seniors, their first sticker costs $2 and a second sticker is $20.

Village Administrator Karl Warwick said most households have two cars and spend $40 a year on stickers. But the program takes administrative time, and a line item on utility bills would streamline the process, he said.

One proposal by village officials is a $6 fee every other month on water and sewer bills. That would amount to $36 a year. For seniors, the fee would be $3 fee every other – $18 a year.

Under such a structure, the village would expect to receive about $61,000 a year.

“We would anticipate receiving about the same amount of money through a fee on the utility bill versus the vehicle sticker program, minus having to administer and enforce the vehicle sticker program,” Warwick said.

Village officials expect to finalize a plan to replace vehicle stickers in January or February, Warwick said.

Vehicle stickers are common area communities.

“I really can’t stand it,” Trustee Steve Knar said. “It’s a waste of time and effort, and I’m more than happy to get rid of it.”

Warwick said about 190 residents would need to receive separate bills because they don’t receive utility bills.

“Whatever we do, someone is not going to be happy,” Knar said. “The bottom line is we get rid of stickers, save our staff some time, and we’re going to collect just about the [same] revenues we’re getting all along, and it’s a good idea.”

Trustee Gerald Menzel said he has concerns about residents starting to pay toward street maintenance when they don’t own a car, and people who have more than two vehicles being charged for only two vehicles.

“If I don’t have a car, and I’m going to pay $6 every other month, or people who have three or four cars, aren’t going to pay more, That doesn’t make sense,” Menzel said.

Trustee Michael Schiestel said people who don’t have vehicles, however, still use the roads in some fashion.

“Someone comes to pick them up, people don’t walk everywhere,” Schiestel said. “We are a transit-oriented community. ... It’s basically a road usage fee.”

One other option is putting the fee on the trash pickup bill, which goes out once every four months.

The use of vehicle stickers by communities varies in McHenry County.

McHenry and Crystal Lake require residents to buy annual stickers, with the money going toward road maintenance.

Stickers also have advantages.

Residents in Crystal Lake can enter Three Oaks Recreational Area without paying for parking as long as they have a valid vehicle sticker. And in McHenry, residents can drop off brush at city facilities during certain times of the year if they have valid sticker, City Administrator Derik Morefield said.

McHenry brings in about $160,000 a year with its sticker program. About 75 percent of people who buy stickers do so by the June 30 deadline, Morefield said. “This is something people are used to.”

Eliminating a sticker fee has been done before.

Lake in the Hills eliminated its vehicle sticker fee about a dozen years ago, Village Administrator Gerald Sagona said.

It brought in about $100,000 a year and was eliminated, along with an electricity utility tax and gas utility tax, when the village saw a lot of commercial growth and increases in sales-tax revenue.

“It’s amazing how you can eliminate a revenue source and how you can learn to live without it,” Sagona said.

Woodstock does not have vehicle stickers but has discussed the possibility – the last time more than a year ago, Deputy City Manager Roscoe Stelford said.

“There’s definitely a cost to administer them from an operational point of view that still outweighs the money that would be derived from ... imposing a vehicle sticker program,” Stelford said.

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