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updated: 6/11/2014 12:07 AM

Arlington Hts. discusses cutting vehicle, dog licenses

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  • Will Arlington Heights car stickers soon be a thing of the past?

       Will Arlington Heights car stickers soon be a thing of the past?
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 

Arlington Heights trustees may eliminate vehicle stickers and dog licenses, but first they need to plug the budget hole those cuts would create.

The village board discussed the idea Monday, but tabled the proposal because trustees weren't happy with staff suggestions to either raise the food and beverage tax or hike property taxes to make up for the $1.4 million that would be lost.

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Trustees Thomas Glasgow and Jim Tinaglia suggested eliminating vehicle stickers during the village's budget talks earlier this spring, saying a lot of people don't bother to buy them and there are few repercussions.

They asked that the board discuss it before moving forward with next year's stickers.

"This essentially amounts to a voluntary tax," Glasgow said. "Any one of us could choose not to buy (one) and the chances are that you aren't going to be punished."

Vehicle licenses were established in Arlington Heights in 1939 and dog licenses in 1942, according to a village memo.

The village sells an average of 51,000 vehicle stickers every year and about 5,600 dog tags, but officials said they are still missing out on several hundred thousand dollars in revenue from people who don't comply.

Ticketing scofflaws brings in about $88,000 per year, according to the memo.

Vehicle stickers cost $30 annually in Arlington Heights and dog licenses are $12.

"We enforce largely in conjunction with things like parking tickets or accidents, where police will also check for vehicle stickers," said Village Manager Bill Dixon. "But we have not done blockades or checks on private property. It's not an active program."

Some trustees said that creates a fairness issue between residents who buy the stickers and those who do not. Still others said they don't want to see too much time spent on enforcement.

"When we talk about enforcement, that's not the primary role of our officers," said Trustee John Scaletta. "I'd rather they be vigilant for things like seat belts."

Dixon said the village is allowed to perform vehicle sticker checks on commercial and multifamily lots, but cars at private homes cannot be ticketed until they enter a public street.

"I've seen those stops done in other communities and it is very effective, but also very unpopular," Dixon said.

There is no active enforcement policy for dog licenses and most dogs are now microchipped in case they get lost, officials said.

Tinaglia originally brought up the idea of imposing a motor fuel tax to make up the revenue difference, but village Finance Director Tom Kuehne said that would only bring in $250,000 a year, not enough to make up the lost revenue.

Increasing the food and beverage tax or property tax to were unpopular ideas among trustees.

"No way am I going to vote for increasing the food and beverage tax," Scaletta said. "The only way I can see this working out is if we cut $1.4 million from somewhere else in the budget."

Since vehicle sticker sales start in the fall, officials said Arlington Heights will continue with its regular vehicle and dog licensing program for this year while they continue to look at other options.

"We are clearly not ready tonight, but maybe over time we can figure something out," Tinaglia said.

Buffalo Grove, Hoffman Estates, Naperville, Schaumburg and Wheeling are among the towns that no longer require vehicle stickers.

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