Beale wants to reduce sticker fees for seniors who drive trucks

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Chicago motorists 65 and older who drive Ford F-150s, Chevrolet Silverados, Toyota Tacomas and some other trucks could be in line for a big break when it comes time to purchase their city vehicle stickers.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, wants to give them a nearly seven-fold reduction in their annual city sticker fees — from $202.28 to $30.34.

Beale denied that he’s throwing a pre-election bone to senior citizens who may well be the most dedicated block of voters any elected official can have. The alderman said he’s simply being responsive to his constituents.

“This is a complaint I got from residents who came to my office when we were doing city stickers sales. Seniors were saying, `Why should I have to pay [$202.28] when I have a small pick-up truck?’ “ Beale said.

“If a senior has a small truck that’s their means of transportation and they’re not using it to haul stuff, why should they have to pay more? It’s unfair for seniors to have to pay that kind of money when they’re living on fixed incomes. It should be consistent across the board for all seniors. I heard from residents. That’s where the majority of our ideas come from— from residents who are affected. That’s our job as legislators.”

Pat Corcoran, a spokesman for City Clerk Susana Medoza, said the clerk is “always looking for ways to help our seniors” and is now “pulling together data to determine the financial impact” of Beale’s proposal.

Three years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed raising stickers fees by, what he billed as a moderate, $15 aimed at SUV’s and trucks that do the most damage to city streets.

What the mayor did not say — and acknowledged only after a Mendoza-led barrage of criticism — was the fact that he also wanted to change the definition of “larger passenger vehicles.” That translated into a $60 fee hike for 184,000 Chicago vehicles.

The mayor subsequently withdrew the larger increase.

He raised $14.8 million in added revenue, only by raising city sticker fees by $10 for small- and medium-sized vehicles and by $15 for SUV’s and trucks. Weight limits remained the same. That was followed by annual cost-of-living increases.

Currently, the senior discount of $30.34 only applies to large and small passenger vehicles. City stickers for small trucks — even those owned by older motorists — cost $202.28.

All other motorists pay $85.97 for small passenger vehicles, $136.54 for large SUV’s and $202.28 for small trucks. Stickers for RV’s and large trucks over 16,000 pounds cost $455.13.

The proposal to reduce city sticker fees marks Beale’s second attempt this week to get on the good side of motorists in his Far South Side ward.

Earlier this week, he convinced the Traffic Committee to raise the speed limit on a Far South Side Stretch where, he claims, motorists have been unfairly nailed by an inordinate number of red-light tickets.

The change that would have raised the speed limit on 127th Street between Indiana and Halsted from 30 mph to 35 mph was held in committee — and not approved by the full Council — after Emanuel argued that it’s a state route and that the City Council does not have the power to change the speed limit.

Beale has argued that, under home-rule, the City Council retains the right to change the speed limit. He has asked the IllinoisDepartment of Transportation to clarify the situation.

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