Trustees 'park' vehicle sticker tax substitute

Tax proposal nixed from 2014 budget

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By Anna Lothson

Staff Reporter

Don't get the sticker scrapers out just yet — the annual Oak Park vehicle sticker likely won't be going away next year.

A suggestion that came out of Oak Parks' finance committee last month to eliminate the sticker and offset the revenue instead with a property tax levy has been taken off the table for the 2014 budget. The issue was deliberated during a special village board meeting Monday when trustees agreed more investigating needed to be done before adding to residents' overall tax burden.

The budget draft suggested replacing the $1.25 million brought in from the $45 per registered vehicle with a property tax increase that would generate $1.1 million. The additional savings was said to be found in eliminating the staff costs and materials required to operate the sticker program. The suggestion was said to save the village about $150,000, but would result in an average property tax increase of $95 per household, depending on the property taxes.

Trustees, however, agreed Monday the 2014 budget was not the right time to add another tax or get rid of the vehicle sticker. It was suggested more research was needed before the village changes the system

"Have we exhausted all options?" Village President Anan Abu-Taleb asked. Toward the end of the discussion, after the other four trustees at the meeting weighed in, Abu-Taleb suggested the group "park the item."

The village president's pun generated a few laughs on the otherwise serious issue, but trustees backed this suggestion and determined the issue should come up during the next budget planning process. Trustees also recommended the parking sticker issue be mixed into larger parking fund issues, such as the revenue discussions about increasing on-street permit fees, garages and lots and meters. Each of those categories is currently being worked through in the 2014 budget process.

Although the group agreed it wasn't time to eliminate the vehicle sticker next year, Trustee Bob Tucker gave support to the concept because he said the property tax increase was deductible for residents, whereas the sticker is not.

Resident Bridgett Baron, the only public commenter during the meeting, spoke against the current mindset and process behind eliminating the vehicle sticker. The Oak Parker wasn't questioning the idea, but said adding a property tax is too big of a jump from what she believes the parking fund was designed for.

Trustees seemed to back a similar mindset, agreeing more research is needed. Putting the expense on property owners was another major talking point among trustees.

"It's appealing to get rid of the sticker," Trustee Adam Salzman said. "The concept I can't get my head around is shifting the burden to the property taxpayer … It helps that it's deductible, but no one really sees a sigh of relief because it's deductible."

Salzman backed the concept of taxing automobile usage rather than property taxes.

Trustee Ray Johnson also didn't think the concept was ready to launch for the 2014 budget and said the village needs to address the equity and fairness behind the parking sticker issue.

"The users who have the most impact should carry more of that cost," Johnson said. Because the village is encouraging transit use over vehicle use, he suggested any policy work within that mindset.

"I'm not ready to pull the trigger tonight," he said.

Trustee Glenn Brewer said he was glad the village was starting to think differently on this issue, but also wants the village to do more work before agreeing to a new system. He asked what system the village uses to ensure those avoiding getting a vehicle sticker are caught.

Jill Velan, Oak Park's interim parking services manager, said the technology is changing toward license plate recognition but is not there yet. She also said the county's database, which costs money to request information from, doesn't always provide accurate numbers. License plate recognition technology may be ready by 2015, Velan said, but said staff will continue to research all options.


Email: Twitter: @AnnaLothson

Reader Comments

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Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2013 8:37 PM

@Jim Coughlin, Did you see the agenda for Monday's Village Board meeting? Agenda I has to do with the overnight parking ban. Reading the history of the ban, the evolution of exceptions, and the spectrum of opinions, illustrates just how complicated this parking thing has become...


Posted: November 16th, 2013 6:02 PM

My point w/commercial vehicles was just to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the current faulty system. The vehicle sticker has to go and was a dumb idea to begin. But if some people feel rolling it into the property tax isn't best, fine. Let's explore whatever it takes to shift the burden widely across the tax base to all road users in an equitable way.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2013 4:26 PM

Dear @@@, We disagree on how taxes should be collected. You think all should collected based on the value of one's house/building. I don't. Just a difference of opinion. The issue at hand, from my perspective, is to be more thoughtful in offsetting a $150K expense, than just simply rolling it up in to property taxes. There are other options that could (and should) be explored. And with that, have a super duper day, whether you drive, walk, skip, roll or hop down the road. ;-)

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2013 4:00 PM

The examples you used for commercial vehicles are not Oak Park businesses, so my response was not based on Oak Park businesses. If that's what you meant (Oak Park businesses with commercial vehicles) then they are, via vehicle stickers, already paying the tax. And that tax is based on the number of vehicles they have operating, and not based on the value of the property of where those vehicles are parked.


Posted: November 16th, 2013 2:10 PM

So commercial vehicles based in Oak Park shouldn't need vehicle stickers then, Bridgett? Your logic is faulty. Go back to read the earlier comment to Done. As a resident who lives here and uses the roads, we all are responsible for a piece of the upkeep of those roads based on our home value. Trying to collect sticker fees on cars makes about as much sense as a bbq grill tax claiming it's pollution control. (I shouldn't give the Trustees any ideas, right?)

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 16th, 2013 11:10 AM

Budget development is a great opportunity to identify problems and possible solutions, but not the best time to make solution decision.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2013 11:06 AM

Garbage trucks, etc. all provide services to the Village. Private citizens in their vehicles do not. And pedestrians need traffic lights only because of cars, other people's cars. So the analogy doesn't work. And, by your rationale it appears that you believe all residents get the same value out of the roads. If that's the case, let's do away with property taxes based on value of a home, and charge each resident a flat tax. ;-)


Posted: November 16th, 2013 7:14 AM

By that rationale, garbage trucks, buses, and the numerous lawn care vehicles need to be helping pay for our roads. What about delivery vans? UPS? That's not the way it works, Bridgett. Wear and tear on roads largely comes from seasonal changes in temperature, salt, etc.. Pedestrians use traffic lights every day...they should kick in their fair share of the $100,000 it costs to install a traffic light, too. Let's quit trying to claim cars should be responsible for roads.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 16th, 2013 2:48 AM

Actually, the person with three cars is using more village resources--maintainance of the roads--than a person with less cars, or zero cars. And a person who rides a smaller vehicle, such as a scooter, uses less than a person with a car. And so the person with the scooter pays a lower vehicle sticker fee/tax.


Posted: November 15th, 2013 3:34 PM

It's not like the person with 3 cars is using up 3x more village resources. By contrast, your property being a higher value is a greater percentage of the village tax pot. Therefore you should pay more for the maintenance of village infrastructure. It's not unfair, it's actually more fair. You're just upset it may not work out in your favor.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: November 15th, 2013 3:24 PM

It sure as hell is going to be another source of income. Our payment for car stickers is going to be tied to your property value for taxing purposes - no matter how many cars you have. I may one and my neighbor may have three - if my house is valued higher, I pay more. And as my property value goes up, so does my payment for my sticker. Just look at the revenue D200 has cleaned up on during the runup of propery values in the 2000's - they have afund balance of $130M. Totally unfair.


Posted: November 15th, 2013 3:23 PM

"keep the onus of the tax on car owners where it belongs" Unless Oak Parkers are flying to their residence in a helicopter, we all use the streets. If you use the road in any way (you live here), we have to find a way to spread the love around for who pays. Why should car owners pay for something that we ALL benefit from?

Eilene McCullagh Heckman from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 15th, 2013 1:43 PM

Is the vehicle sticker just another source of tax income... or tax income used for streets and sanitation? If it's the former... well... it's not like Oak Park doesn't stick me with a tax hike every other time it decides it needs more money. If it's the latter... keep the onus of the tax on car owners where it belongs... and don't assume that every home owner also owns a car... or every renter doesn't. Oak Park can save money by allowing people to purchase a "multiple year" sticker if it wants to. Or just let me buy myself a darn parking and vehicle sticker combo for the whole year. I'm tired of buying all the Goo Gone...

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 5:13 PM

I didn't intend to assign you homework, Bridget. The trustees ought to be well aware of the inconsistent policy that charges everyone else but provides free parking for a select few in the Hall lot and on neighboring streets. They just choose to ignore the question of what's fair for residents of that area and the rest of us who are required to purchase a parking permit or feed the meters. Ray Johnson often speaks on how maintenance and snow removal costs can be minimized to taxpayers by making sure that those who use our Village lots and park on our public streets are charged for that privilege. He simply refuses to make sure that policy is applied with "equity and fairness".

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 4:07 PM

Okay... I can't speak for the Board, but I will look in to the situation. I don't know where to begin, but I'll figure it out. That issue doesn't directly affect me, just like the vehicle sticker issue would only affect me negligibly, but I chose to take my time to read that part of the budget, and chose to speak publicly (even though I rather stick pencils in my eyes) at the Village Board meeting about it.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 3:53 PM

Ray Johnson and the trustees have been ignoring the issue of free parking for staff at Village Hall and the unrestricted useby them of on street parking in the surrounding neighborhoods for years, Bridget. I encourage you and board members to take a real look at the situation and verify the number of non-residents who are taking advantage of that perk. It is unfair to charge exorbitant rates to people who drive to work, school or shop in Oak Park while excusing so many others from contributing their share towards the maintenance and snow removal. I have no confidence that President Taleb or any trustees will do anything to change the policy and instead seek to pass along increased costs to those who have little choice but to pay. The free ride continues.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 3:30 PM

@Jim Coughlin, at the meeting, President Abu-Taleb did say that he wanted to have a much broader conversation about parking that included things such as the overnight ban and on street parking. So that leads me to believe that such a topic will be on a future agenda or two.

Liberal Dan from Oak Park  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 1:30 PM

Maybe we could institute some kind of progressive system, where parking permit rates are based on household incomes?

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: November 14th, 2013 1:22 PM

If Ray Johnson really wants to address "equity and fairness" he should be willing to at least consider requiring all vehicles that park for extended periods in the Village Hall lot and all over the neighboring streets be required to purchase permits. Everyone else who drives to work, school or shop in Oak Park and parks in Village owned lots or on our public streets must obtain a montlhy parking permit or pay an hourly fee. However, hundreds of vehicles, including many owned by non-residents. are being provided with this free perk. The costs of maintenance and snow removal at the Village Hall lot has to be borne by those who regularly park there. Visitors and persons doing business could be provided with designated parking spots but everyone else has to pay. Village Hall is easily accessible via public transportation and there are bike rakes available. It makes no sense to promote green methods of transportation while doing nothing about the parking issues at and around Lombard and Madison. Residents who live in neighborhood have to deal on daily basis with cars being parked for many hours throughout the day in front of their residences. Everyone pays to park in Oak Park. No exceptions.

sub standarding parking department  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 12:34 PM

what do you say we get rid of Jill Velan and the parking department and start over. That would surely help fix things and save a ton of $$

Fix it all at once  

Posted: November 13th, 2013 8:26 AM

Good decision to think about this some more. Work on solving ALL our parking issues together. Ditch the sticker, fix the street parking problems, ease restrictions--in short make it all more fair, easier to use, and less of an unwieldy mess.

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