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City to hit car owners with ‘revenue acceleration’

Evanston aldermen voted Monday to push residents to buy city stickers for their cars a month earlier this year.

The switch is designed to let the city collect a full 12-months worth of city sticker revenue before the current transitional 10-month fiscal year ends in December.

It will also mean that people who waited until the last minute to buy this year's stickers in January will be pressed to buy another sticker before this year ends.

And, from a personal comfort standpoint, it should let more residents apply new stickers to their cars before the worst of winter weather sets in.

The plan, as described in a city staff memo, involves a little slight-of-hand.

It says the city will announce that the deadline for buying 2012 stickers without a late-payment penalty that adds 50 percent to the cost is Dec. 16, but that it won't actually impose the penalty until Jan. 5.

For 2011 stickers the penalty date was Jan. 10.

Stickers will go on sale this fall on Oct. 3, a month earlier than they did last year.

The Dec. 16 sticker purchase deadline date was chosen because that's the last date by which staff could be sure that money collected would be posted to the city's books by the end of the fiscal year.

Aldermen, who were focused on the selection of a new sticker design, had little reaction to the new deadline scheme, although Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she thought it would be "a nightmare."

The 2011 stickers on their face say they expire Dec. 31.

On the design issue, the aldermen voted to accept a last-minute recommendation from staff.

Instead of selecting one of five non-profits that asked to be featured on the sticker, the staff suggested that logos from all five groups be included in a single 2012 sticker design.

City staff also plan to move ahead with plans to seek City Council approval to purchase license plate recognition cameras for city parking enforcement vehicles later this year. Those could eliminate the need for vehicle stickers.

But they decided to stick with distributing stickers for now, just in case it takes a while to get the camera system up and running.

Sticker prices will remain unchanged for 2012. They start at $75 for a passenger car, with higher rates for recreational vehicles and trucks.

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