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Mokena Board Eliminates Vehicle Stickers to Give Residents a Break

Lots of lively discussion dominated the Nov. 26 meeting as the Mokena Village Board of Trustees deliberated on eliminating the vehicle registration sticker fee.

Editor's Note: This article has been edited after publication to correct the spelling of Donald Labriola's name.

Plenty of passionate discussion surrounded the Mokena Village Board of Trustees' consideration of and subsequent motion to approve an ordinance amendment to eliminate the village's vehicle registration sticker fee at the board's Nov. 26 meeting.

The amendment to the village's vehicle licensing ordinance will eliminate the requirement for vehicle stickers, saving residents $13 per car per year.  Eliminating the vehicle sticker program has been proposed by Mayor Joe Werner in the past and was brought up again after the board approved video gaming within the village in October.

According to Village Administrator John Downs, the village currently takes in about $125,000 in net revenue from sticker sales. Downs said a survey of local liquor license holders conducted by Director of Economic and Community Development Alan Zordan indicated that about 40 terminals would be installed in the village, which Downs predicts will yield annual revenues of approximately $50,000. That amount is based on a conservative interpretation of the state's estimation of video gaming revenues, which takes into account about 50 percent of what the state is expecting municipalities to see from each machine.

Downs said the projected annual gaming revenue, combined with a recent increase in sales tax revenues and the current state of the village's general fund balance, means that the village can afford to give residents a small break.

"Our retail sales tax has rebounded, and we're at an all-time high, well above anything prior to the recession, and it's continuing to trend higher on a regular basis," Downs said. "And our general fund is in the most healthy position it's been in the entire time I've been chief budget officer."

Validity of workshop discussion challenged 

During public comment, Mokena resident Jim Giglio criticized the board for what he said was a lack of public discussion on the matter before the subject of eliminating the vehicle sticker program came up for a vote at the Nov. 26 meeting.

"I think that it was subversive," Giglio said. "I don't think that you were honest and forthcoming, and you weren't transparent. And I think that's wrong, and you owe it to your residents to be above board, to set a higher standard."

Giglio suggested that the board may have violated the state's Open Meetings Act by discussing the vehicle sticker issue at a work session meeting last Monday without listing it on the meeting agenda. However, Village Attorney Tiffany Thompson said those rules only apply to items in which the board will vote or otherwise take direct action.

"I believe the meeting was properly posted," Thompson said. "There was an agenda. The board was taking no action that evening, and, therefore, if they discuss something that was not on the agenda, that does not make it a violation. The board is free to discuss items that are not on the agenda as long as they are not taking action, which they did not."

Giglio said he would personally prefer to see the revenue from the vehicle stickers go towards paying for more positions in the village government in areas such as public safety and economic development, and that the village should look into saving residents money in more substantial areas, such as by renegotiating a lower water rate with the City of Chicago. He also expressed reservations about the board's reliance on projected video gaming revenue to offset the cost of eliminating the stickers, stating that he was uncomfortable relying on estimations when it wasn't clear how many gaming machines were actually going to end up in Mokena businesses. Giglio said he thought the matter had moved to the voting stage too quickly.

"I think we're jumping the gun here," Giglio said. "I'll say it again: There's an election coming up in April, and the timing is awful suspect. Let's wait and see what the numbers bear out before we make any decisions like this, and let's have some public discussion. Let's have a workshop with it on the agenda so people can show up."

Werner claimed the village offered residents plenty of opportunities to ask questions about the topic and comment publicly if they had any issues with it.

"On October 8, before this discussion about video gaming and the idea of doing away with these vehicle stickers was ever brought up, that was during a regular meeting," Werner said. "I brought it up, some detail at that point was brought up, and we heard from no one about the fact that we were going to be bringing it up. We didn't vote on this that night. We said we were going to be talking about it again here in November, and again, here we are. It's been in the papers, people have had ample opportunity to raise any concerns they had about it, and we heard nothing."

Before the vote, Trustee Donald Labriola explained to the board that he also thought more discussion was necessary, and that he would be opposing the motion in the vote.

"I don't see what the urgency is that we have to do it tonight," Labriola said. "I mean, we have  budget discussions coming up starting in January. There's a lot of time to talk about it, we have a long while to go before they start issuing reminders to buy stickers for next year. I just don't see the urgency. I'd like to see the process work itself out and get some numbers and have these discussions."

Trustee John Mazzorana said he supported the motion because he felt Mokena's residents deserved a break after enduring a few years of economic hardship.

"We can now afford to give some relief to our regular residents," Mazzorana said. "They've also suffered with us the last two and a half to three years. And giving them some relief in an economy where, based on these numbers, we can afford to do it, I think is the right thing to do now."

The motion carried in a 5-1 vote, with Labriola the only trustee to vote against it. With the amendment to the village's vehicle registration ordinance passed, the current program will remain in place until April 30, 2013, after which village residents will no longer be required to purchase vehicle registration stickers.

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Eric Blair November 27, 2012 at 11:35 PM
This only shows how out of touch these officials are in the field of economics. The higher revenue numbers are based on a hollow economy. The money is fake, created by the “fed” with a few strokes on their computers in order to artificially prop up this illusion of prosperity. Nothing has changed since ’08 other than massive additional debt. This additional debt is what’s shoring up the “markets”, not production. The reason is because most state (government) pension plans are heavily invested in stocks. Trade deficit bad as ever as well as employment numbers. Foreclosures and vacant commercial property up and rising. Use of consumer credit back up to pre-recession levels. The “fed” buying most mortgages, good and bad ones. Looks like they plan to own everything, sooner, rather than later. These officials will soon realize this missing revenue won’t be made up by tavern gambling and will have to come from somewhere else. The next plan to replace the lost money, whatever it will be, will cost far more. All over Illinois the pension cost (not counting teachers in this equation) is rising exponentially. These clowns think this current added revenue is going to be permanent, no, only temporary. Don’t count your “saved” sticker fees just yet. The money will just come out of your other pocket down the road. Bet on it.
Eric B. November 28, 2012 at 03:34 PM
"Giving me relief" from paying $13 dollars a year for my vehicle sticker is actually insulting. I have no problem paying a dollar a month to have my roads cleaned in the winter and patched up in the summer. How the board thought this was a good idea is beyond me.
Mokena Voter November 28, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I watched the meeting on cable and it sure seemed it could have been done a lot easier with the village Board having an open discussion at a workshop with it on the agenda . It seems really sneaky the way they did it ! Has anyone ever told Trustee Mazzorana that he looks like a fool when he exagerates a residents comments and makes off the cuff comments that can be heard by us at home ? We heard the comment on cable about " inviting him ". Trustee Mazzoranna seems to think he's talking to a subordinate not a taxpayer/resident/VOTER ! Counting on Gambling Revenue is a dangerous practice and leaving a $70,000 deficiency in there projection is irresponsible at best . The man who talked about getting water rates reduced to give relief made a good point with water bills in warm months $250 to $300 . And Maybe Trustee Mazzorana could call " Mayor Daley " as he commented to get water rate conversations going . If he accepts there's nothing he can do then he should step down , leaders fight for their residents !
MARY November 28, 2012 at 06:07 PM
I think its GREAT, JOLIET has benefitted a lot having HARRAHS and HOLLYWOOD CASINOs there so why can't we benefit a little bit also!!!!
RAK November 28, 2012 at 07:41 PM
So am I now going to get tickets from other towns for not having, or displaying an expired city sticker?
Mokena Voter November 28, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Great Point RAK ,Go to a meeting and ask what will happen ? Chicago nails people for that all the time and even if you can prove it you have to go through a lot of time and effort to have ticket waived ! The $13.00 you're saving will. It's you a lot more if this happens to you !
Mokena Voter November 28, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Oops ! The $13.00 your saving in Mokena will cost you a lot more if you or someone else gets this type of ticket !
Eric B. November 28, 2012 at 08:25 PM
The other thing that is troubling is that vehicle sticker fees are just a part of owning a car. There are many towns that charge the fee, so many residents just pay the $13 dollars because they have been doing it for decades. If this gambling revenue estimation doesn't pan out, just think of the PR nightmare the board will have to endure when they have to admit they were wrong and reinstate the sticker fee.
Mokena Voter November 28, 2012 at 09:22 PM
By the time the licenses are issued and gambling revenues are calculated it will be a year from now ! That's what their probably counting on with their Election coming up in 4 months ! These issues could have been asked and answered at a public forum that they didn't have ! Imagine that ?
Eric Blair November 28, 2012 at 09:37 PM
On the topic of cleaning the streets in winter consider this. The budget last winter contained the highest amount of money ever for plow work and salt for Mokena. The easy winter left a budget SURPLUS of several hundred thousand $. Ostensibly this surplus money was “rolled” over to this year. However this does not reflect in the new levy, which is up. This surplus money is stolen by way of accounting tricks. It goes off budget into funds hidden from the residents. Taking money (stealing) in this way is not a legitimate function of government but ALL taxing bodies participate in this fraud. How many other of the many “funds” had surpluses? Only the administration knows and they don’t volunteer any info. The recent case of the woman in Dixon comes to mind. This crew currently in power has been here too long. By now it’s possible they “stole” millions of $’s that now sit in off budget accounts. Funny how so few know about this. Maybe by design?
Mokena Voter November 29, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Eric Blair you are on the money ! Seems u have inside info ?
Publicola November 29, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Very little to draw from if the gambling revenue does not make up for the shortfall created by the elimination of the village sticker. JC Penny is the only big box in this town and may not be around for the long hall. Its cash on hand was recently cut to $525 million, which is half of what it was last year at this time. We might expect a tax hike of some sort to be passed in stealth fashion next summer after the election, or a continued degradation of public services. We won't be able to ever get a McDonalds it seems. We will have to make do I guess with the Creamery, which is only open half a year. There could have been a Mickey D's there awhile back, but I seem to recall the powers that passed on that opportunity.
Stoger Martin November 29, 2012 at 04:11 AM
The Mayor and the board run ruffshod over the open meetings act,and act as if it's joke.The stickers show pride in our village now in an election wim their gone. Instead of bringing more cops to the village Boss Downes does fuzzy math to keep his job. Just like the big land giveaway North of the expresway.We need business and the village fiddles while Mokena burns.Look what they put us thru on Video gambling just major pontifacing and stalling.Now everyone seems to be wearing grown up clothes,suits and insome cases ties.Jersey Mikes and button shops instead of big boxes.WoW
Stroger Martin November 29, 2012 at 04:28 AM
I don't think I said anything that was not true.
Eric Blair November 29, 2012 at 04:51 AM
No inside info other than 40+yrs. researching government corruption. Most people know government is corrupt but have no idea how “deep” it goes. In fact most don’t believe it even when the corruption is openly documented. The media is complicit, you won’t find the truth there. Government is nothing more than organized crime. For the most part the American people prefer to stay asleep and pretend it’s not happening. They do so at their own peril. Comeuppance won’t be fun. It’s only starting.
Terry Germany November 29, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Some of your comments indicate that the Mayor and the some of the trustees had have something to do with loosing out on the big boxes. Let me refresh your memory of a one term trustee named Rhonda Pawlski and her cronies, a trustee who was elected into office for one reason, to chase Home Depot out of town and succeeded. Now we have a youth football league playing on the very land the Home Depot was going to build! Where are you now Rhonda?? You let millions of dollars out of the hands of our village and schools. what a selfish act. Remember it's more difficult to run a village during poor economic times, the previous administration had the reins during good times and managed to make Mokena look like we had small town syndrome. None of the big boxes wanted to come here after that. The current Mayor and trustees have lead the town upstream in difficult times, not an easy task. A vehicle tax is eliminated and we have complaints. Are you kidding me! In April rememebrer who held the village together the last half of the decade, it wasn't Rhonda??? Thanks Mayor and the current trustees
Eric Blair November 29, 2012 at 01:05 PM
It’s yuppies like you who have destroyed our town. Mokena needs more people and development as much as we need more violent crime. We don’t want your stinkin’ box stores or you for that matter. It’s so congested around here it’s become difficult to get around. On your way out take the other weak, spoiled brat yuppies with you along with their million dollar houses they can’t afford
Mokena Voter November 29, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Is this the same Eric Blair ? Your prior comments reflect a different mindset seeming concern and research . If its same person ?
RAK November 29, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I agree, the development around 191st and LaGrange is a sad missed opportunity. Where else is there a major interchange with so little development? At the very least there should be a McD's just went of Mindy's. I do give credit to the current Admin for keeping the town going during the past 4 years without any major cutbacks. I appreciate the tax cut for the stickers, but at the same time it was so little compared to what I paid in previous towns that I wouldn't have minded the money just being socked away in the road repair fund. I do think the "Quiet Zones" are stupid and the new speed zone on 191st is assinine.
stroger martin November 29, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Look at he development in the sourrounding villages,Portillos gone,Jersy Mikes,gone JCPgoing,Meiers no show all thing s that our current Mayor handled personally. New Lenox Walmart,Lowes,Target all devopled in the last 4 years.
ProMokena November 29, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Terry Germany I agree with you about good old trustee Rhonda. Other points you made not so much. You spoke of the previous administration making Mokena look like it had small town syndrome. Have you looked at the village board lately? What previous administration? They've all been up there forever! Home Depot was chased away. Then they came back and were approved for development. Then they left again - on their own - under this village board and built a store right across from our border. It does seem curious that all of our neighboring villages have flourished during these poor economic times but Mokena is anchored down in economic development obscurity. Whether they kept the village healthy or not in the last few years they've certainly dropped the ball on development. That is hardly arguable. They my have pointed the boat upstream but they're not moving forward.
Eric Blair November 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Same person. I hate/despise/loath/ yuppies. All they care about is themselves. To them it’s “me, me, me, …..” A previous post of mine mentioned that most Americans prefer to stay asleep while their government rips them off and commits atrocities all over the globe in our name. I’ve found over the years that yuppies fit this category to a tee. How do I know a yuppie posted the offending comment? Only a yuppie would praise this corrupt government we have here in Mokena. Something else to keep in mind: government NEVER does anything to benefit us, the citizens. There is ALWAYS an ulterior motive kept hidden from the people when they do something like drop sticker fees, or push electrical aggregation as a way to “help” us. The poster who claimed this administration is doing a good job is, to say it in a half-way civilized manner, not to bright, blind, stupid. Take your pick.
RAK November 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM
So the solution is to kick out everyone who moved here prior to 19xx and revert back to a rural hamlet? I don't think that is viable.
Unsure November 30, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Was it a complaint about saving the $13 or how the board did it ? It's certainly not much money and there is the Election coming ! 2 + 2 =

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