Thursday, October 18, 2012

Solving a problem that doesn’t exist?

I’m not quite sure what to think of city Clerk Susana Mendoza, who on Wednesday came up with a solution to a problem that I never really realized existed.
MENDOZA: Solving a non-existent problem?

The problem is the inconvenience factor involved in having everyone in Chicago who owns an automobile having to renew their city stickers by June 30.

I’M SURE MOST people think of it less as an inconvenience and more as a citywide rip-off that they have to purchase a city sticker at all for every vehicle they own – or else risk the Wrath of Rahm and other city officials who will have them ticketed (should Chicago police ever stumble across their vehicles) and fined!

But Mendoza seems to think that it will seem less painful for people to have to buy the stickers if they don’t have to deal with massive lines as every single motorist rushes to her office all at once to make their purchases – at $85 a pop.

The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday how her office is drawing up a year-round sticker purchase plan – one that is being copied heavily from the way the Illinois secretary of state’s office handles the renewal of license plates.

Those identification plates on our cars are good for one year, then we have to purchase a new sticker each year that indicates we paid our $100 fee for the upcoming year.

BUT THERE ARE 12 different deadlines, on account of the fact that everybody gets until the end of the month from one year they purchased them to renew them.

In my case, June 30 is the big date – the one by which I have to go to a motor vehicle bureau and wait in the lines for a procedure that – once I get to a clerk of some type – takes all of about three minutes to complete.

It’s the wait in line that winds up being annoying to us – envision an hour-long wait for a three-minute process.

It can be just as bad when it comes to buying the city sticker, except that I’m not sure it is really appropriate to compare the two because there is a bit of a difference.

THE LICENSE PLATE is something that is meant to help public safety officials (particularly those highway patrol types of the Illinois State Police) identify an automobile much quicker than would otherwise be possible if they had to look up the VIN number every single time they made a traffic stop.

The city sticker always reeked of being just another fee the city charges us to try to raise revenue – and not one that provides any real benefit to the public.

Which is why a part of me admires the rare community that doesn’t sell city vehicle stickers. I still remember when I lived in Springfield, Ill., and first moved to the capital city.

Local officials looked at me like I was a circus freak when I inquired about how to get a city sticker. Of course, Springfield city officials have their own tax (1 percent on the purchase price) on local residents whenever they buy automobiles – which I learned when I bought a car while living there.

BECAUSE I BOUGHT the car from a suburban Chicago dealership (out in Oak Lawn, if I recall correctly), I wasn’t charged the tax. So Springfield sued me, although they dropped the lawsuit when I came up with $148 for the tax.

But back to city stickers. I’m just not convinced people are going to feel at all relieved that they won’t have to cram into a clerk’s office (or a currency exchange) all at once.

If Mendoza really wanted to make people happy, she’d figure out a way to reduce the fee – if not eliminate it altogether.

Not that I expect that to ever happen. City officials are too dependent on the revenue (about $110 million this year, according to the clerk) by now to be able to afford to give it up.

BESIDES, IF THERE’S a date we’d really like to do away with, it’s April 15.

Tax Day!!!!!!

All the tension we all feel from having to account for our incomes and hope that the Internal Revenue Service doesn’t find some bureaucratic rule that can be used against us.

That would be a significant move if we could reduce it by 1/12th.


No comments: