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Belleville wheel tax penalties kick in Monday

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

Belleville, Ill – Residents in Belleville are running out of time to pay the city's new vehicle registration fee without penalty.

The wheel tax costs the average resident $20 per registered vehicle, though discounts are available to seniors, the disabled, and for antique cars that are not driven much. The revenue will partially offset the $1.3 million the state of Illinois owes Belleville in a variety of back payments and withheld tax revenue, and help the city avoid cutting police and fire.

Vehicle owners will face a $20 late fee on Monday, said Belleville mayor Mark Eckert. And they could also receive a ticket for $100.

The city just wants compliance, Eckert said. It's unlikely police officers will be out looking for those without tags.

"But those who get grumpy and they get in a police officer's face and they indicate that they're not going to get one, I can't tell you that a police officer isn't going to give them a ticket right off the bat instead of a warning," Eckert said.

Residents, he added, have had plenty of time to comply with the new law. The city even pushed the deadline back a month after a computer glitch.

"We feel like we've done everything possible except post it on our sewer bills that go out," Eckert said. "As much as they may not like it, I don't like it, but I refuse to cut public safety, it's not wise in this world we live in today."

He said registration has picked up sharply since last week, when only about 20,000 vehicle owners had gotten their sticker.

Belleville eliminated a previous wheel tax in 1995.


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