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McHenry City Council votes to end vehicle sticker program

Law was difficult to enforce, city officials say

McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett
McHenry Mayor Wayne Jett

The McHenry City Council has decided to end the city’s vehicle sticker program.

McHenry’s code requires residents to buy municipal stickers for their vehicles. Annual fees for the stickers typically are $12 for a regular vehicle, $15 for school buses operated by nonprofits and $30 for large trucks.

The program generated a net revenue of $127,783 in fiscal 2018. Costs to operate the program were about $24,000.

But compliance is low and the law is difficult to enforce, city officials said.

“It comes down to fairness,” said Ward 4 Alderman Scott Curry, who also is chairman of the city’s finance committee. “We have a sizable percentage of people who don’t comply. ... People who are compliant have been paying it, and people who aren’t are largely getting away with it.”

The compliance rate is about 71 percent. Police issued 136 tickets for noncompliance in 2018, according to city documents.

Police can’t pull someone over just because they do not have a vehicle sticker, McHenry Police Chief John Birk said.

“It’s not reasonable grounds for a traffic stop,” he said.

City Council members voted unanimously to abolish the program.

“Yes, it’s revenue, but enforcement doesn’t allow it to be fair,” said Ward 7 Alderwoman Geri Condon. “I’m glad to see it go.”

Ward 3 Alderman Jeffrey Schaefer said he hated to eliminate a program that brings in money and would like to find a way to make the program more fair.

McHenry isn’t the first McHenry County municipality to end a vehicle sticker program. The village of Lakewood ended its program in 2016. A total of 13 municipalities in the county still require residents to buy vehicle stickers and 17 don’t, according to city documents.

Ward 2 Alderman Andrew Glab said he hasn’t liked the way the program has been administered.

“I hate to get rid of an ordinance because we can’t figure out a way to enforce it,” Glab said. “But it’s not like we are doing away with speed limits. ... It’s the residents that are saving money here.”

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