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City may shift wheel tax deadline

wheel-tax

Evanston aldermen Monday will get a proposal from city staff to shift the annual deadline for paying the city wheel tax on motor vehicles from Dec. 31 to Oct. 1.

The proposal is an outgrowth of a suggestion from Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, at the Jan. 14 City Council meeting that the deadline be shifted to July.

Many residents have complained for years about having to apply the new stickers for the wheel tax and resident parking permits in the dead of winter. That issue was eliminated for those who don’t have parking permits when physical stickers for the wheel tax were eliminated a few years ago.

But there still are complaints from residents who have to trek to the Civic Center in the cold weather and wait in line to pay the tax, and that the timing of the tax deadline makes it difficult for some residents to have cash available for holiday gifts.

The extra work at the city collector’s office also means few staff there can take time off at the holidays.

The city’s chief financial officer, Hitesh Desai, in a memo to aldermen, suggests that a shift to an Oct. 1 deadline would solve those problems and also let the city use summer youth workers to handle a lot of the extra work that now requires hiring temporary employees at the collector’s office.

One alternative solution not discussed in the staff memo would be to make wheel tax payments due on a rotating schedule through the year — perhaps keyed to when car owners have to renew their state vehicle registration. That presumably would do even more to reduce the need for temporary staff at the collector’s office.

Some other plans to reduce the hassle of making wheel tax payments are already in the works. By the 2020 wheel tax season staff plans to include a wheel tax renewal option with the ParkEvanston app. That would let residents get notifications about the tax due and make their payments directly through the app.

Desai says if the aldermen approve changing the wheel tax renewal schedule, the deadline for paying the tax would remain Dec. 31 this year. But residents would only be paying for nine months of the tax. For a passenger car that would be $63.75 instead of the full year fee of $85.

The next deadline after that would then be Oct. 1, 2020.

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