Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to adopt changes to implement plans to eliminate stickers from the city’s parking enforcement system and rely on license plate recognition technology instead.

Up for approval Monday are changes to the city code to eliminate the requirement of stickers for permit parking in the city’s surface parking lots and to purchase five license plate recognition systems from Passport Labs of Charlotte, North Carolina, for $206,500.

In a memo to aldermen, Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie says the city has been using mobile license plate reading technology for some parking enforcement functions since 2012.

In 2014 the city eliminated vehicle registration or wheel tax stickers, and in the last two years, Storlie says, it has started using the license plate reading technology to verify parking permits, confirm mobile and pay station payments, issue citations and identify scofflaws for boot eligibility.

She says the city now needs seven parking enforcement vehicles equipped with the license plate reading techology to keep up with the enforcement work and that two of the five existing systems are no longer working consistently and another is nearing the end of its useful life.

She says the new software for the system will proide near real-time analysis of parking occupancy data that should make it easier to conduct parking usage studies.

The ordinance change will shift permit payments for surface parking lots to a monthly rather than quarterly basis and will let people renew the permits automatically through the Park Evanston app or the city website.

The City Council Monday is also scheduled to vote on a plan to change the deadline for wheel tax payment to Sept. 30 instead of Dec. 31. 

City staff say the switch will reduce the year-end crush of work at the city collector’s office and let the city use summer youth workers to handle some of the wheel tax program tasks in August.

The new plan would mean residents would make a nine-month wheel tax payment this December at three-quarters of the annual rate, and need make their next 12-month payment in September 2020.

The city also plans to switch to a stickerless solution for resident on-street parking permits.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What does the wheel tax cover

    It would be great to see a comprehensive study about the parking taxes, etc. I would like to know why Evanston residents are taxed to have a car in the city. In wilmette their wheel tax gives them certain privileges- like parking closer to the lake. In Evanston it is just another tax that non residents don’t have to pay. Evanston has become a police state regarding parking enforcement to the extent that I don’t  even want to shop in the city anymore. It’s easier to head to another town rather than deal with wheel taxes, parking tickets, street sweeping tickets. Evanston has figured out how to generate a ton of money by ticketing and taxing their residents for parking.

    1. Wheel tax


      The basic passenger car wheel tax rate is $85 for 2020 in Evanston (up from $75 for this year).

      It’s $87.82 in Chicago and $80 in Wilmette.

      In Evanston the wheel tax payment lets people park in some zones that are barred to non-residents — notably on some side streets near Howard Street, not unlike the benefit you describe in Wilmette.

      The Evanston wheel tax is projected to raise about $2.875 million this year. The money goes into the general fund, which is used for a range of city services — including routine maintenance work on the city’s 147 miles of streets and 76 miles of alleys.

      According to the city budget, one reason for the wheel tax rate increase this year is that despite a modest increase in the city’s population, the number of cars registered in the city has gradually been declining, decreasing the amount of money the tax raised.

      — Bill

      1. decline in Evanston cars!

        Shouldn’t we be rejoicing?  Wasn’t there recently a bulding proposal that was slated to have a garage that accommodated only 80% of possible resident cars?  But wait! If the wheel tax continues to increase, there will be fewer cars, less parking to shop, and less tax revenue!

  2. Thanks bill. Curious to know

    Thanks bill. Curious to know how much parking enforcement (software, hardware, staff, pension) costs based on the profit it brings in. Your so good at compiling this thought I’d ask a follow up.

    1. Parking fund

      The city’s Parking Fund operation for this year is summarized on p. 172 of the city budget.

      It shows $10.6 million in revenue and $13.2 million in expenses, including a $3.5 million transfer to the general fund.

      Salaries and benefits for the parking staff total just under $2 million, services and supplies $3.5 million and capital outlays $3.5 million.

      The fund includes operations of the city’s three garages and all its surface lots and parking meters.

      Parking ticket fines, which are included in the general fund rather than the parking fund, are budgeted at $4.7 million for this year.

      — Bill

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