It's an interesting idea eliminating Oak Park's vehicle stickers. But it was a better idea last week when the village board shelved the concept for now as it moves quickly to craft a budget for the new year.
The concept, as presented by staff, is to eliminate the annual process and costs of selling and tracking the little adhesive window taxes and instead increase local property taxes by a slightly smaller amount to cover the lost revenue. The parking staff proposing the end of the stickers suggested that a full-time equivalent staff position might also be cut eventually, adding to the savings. Plus, staff said, it would be a green move as it eliminated paper trails and mailings, etc.
Once the idea surfaced, though, some legitimate criticism was leveled. If Oak Park is really interested in building a bike and pedestrian-oriented village, why eliminate a tax specifically aimed at those driving cars, a tax that rises with the number of cars a household owns? And the corollary: Why should a non-car household see its property taxes increase to pay for the town's drivers?
These will be good discussions to have over the course of the next year. And it is a good example of the benefit of fresh eyes asking, "Why exactly do we have vehicle stickers?" We need to be asking many more such questions as we consider the cost of running our local government entities.
Answer Book 2017
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