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City Council panel signs off on year-round sticker sales

Updated: May 5, 2013 3:00PM

A City Council committee on Wednesday signed off on the switch to year-round city sticker sales after City Clerk Susana Mendoza described a somewhat confusing process that will force 1.3 million motorists to share their vehicle identification number with the clerk’s office, then make a choice in 2014.

Under year-round sales, the stickers will be linked to the “vehicle — not the person,” Mendoza said. That will require motorists to share with the clerk’s office the VIN number that will appear on sticker renewal forms, on their registration, insurance cards or on their titles, for those who own their vehicles outright.

Once the information is gathered this year — the final year that stickers will run only from June-to-June — motorists will be assigned individual renewal dates six months after their state license plates expire.

In 2014, they’ll need to make a choice. They can either purchase a cheaper, pro-rated version of the new sticker that carries them until the new expiration date — even if it’s only a few months away. Or, they can lay out a larger amount of money for more than a year and wash their hands of the sticker headache.

“Depending on when you expire, you will either have an option of a one-month pro-ration all the way to an 11-month pro-ration. Or, the proration plus the following the year,” Mendoza said.

“If time is of more importance to you and value, then you might choose to go with the pro-ration-plus. If the budget is something you need to worry about more, then you might go with the [cheaper] version. We’re making it super-simple…That will eventually make sure that every single person in Chicago at the end of 2015 will now be on their new expiration month and will forever more have to renew from year-to-year six months after their license plate expires.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this week that Mendoza’s plan to shift to year-round sales of Chicago vehicle stickers will eliminate a political headache for the freshman clerk: the annual sticker design contest that became embroiled in a gang controversy.

The contest was eliminated after the sticker was re-designed with enforcement in mind. Much of it is taken up by the month and year of expiration. The rest will have information specific to that vehicle, including make, model and partial VIN number. That is an anti-counterfeit measure.

On Wednesday, the clerk rejected as “absolutely incorrect” a suggestion that the switch to year-round sales was merely an excuse to end the sticker contest that had turned into a nightmare.

“The entire focus of moving to year-round sales is that we want to make the customer’s experience much better,” she said.

“I believe those people would prefer to wait in very short lines, to have a fast turn-around time on their city sticker and, to frankly not have to even think about the clerk’s office and taking a day off of work to go buy the city stickers, which is frankly a tax that nobody likes to pay.”

Last year, Mendoza was forced to dump the contest-winning design for the city’s 2012-13 vehicle sticker because student artist Herbie Pulgar’s heart and hands design might be “misconstrued as containing gang symbols” honoring the Maniac Latin Disciples.

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