Like last year, Belleville has implemented another wheel tax. Unlike last year, those who don't buy their $20 sticker (now $40 since it's after the deadline) have a much better chance of getting a ticket... a $100 fine.
Last year police were lax in their inforcement. That was on purpose, Belleville Police Captain Don Sax told me. The wheel tax was new and their main goal was to inform people they needed to pay it. In seven months police only handed out 21 tickets... about three a month.
In the first five days since the deadline this year (July 1st) to have a green wheel tax sticker on the passenger side of the windshield, police have handed out ten tickets. Two a day comes to about 60 a month. And repeat violators face a $250 fine.
There IS a way around this but it's a risk. If you are a perfect driver and never get pulled over for a traffic or parking violation, you won't get a ticket. Police can't just pull over cars in Belleville that don't have the sticker. Thousands of people who don't live in the city drive through the city each day. They don't pay the tax.
But police say if they do pull someone over who turns out to be a Belleville taxpayer who hasn't paid the wheel tax, they should expect to get a ticket.
Belleville brought back the wheel tax to make up for a million-plus dollar shortfall... The state of Illinois owes the city money. They city's not getting it so the wheel tax is how they're generating it.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at MSchnyder@kmov.com.