Courtesy of lawmakers' stopgap budget deal reached June 30, Illinois residents will again begin to receive license plate renewal notices following a period of no reminders and plenty of late fees.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced that the state would resume sending reminders on Aug. 1. The elimination of the reminders reflected austere times that agencies operated under without a budget.
White’s office said it saved $450,000 a month since last October when the cut took place.
Several residents registered for renewals late as a result of no notice being mailed. Late fees were issued at $20 per vehicle for late renewal, in addition to the $101 renewal fee. White’s office reported that a total of 476,000 motorists paid the late fee.
“We had some pretty upset customers in the beginning,” Lauren Beatty, owner at Romano’s License Service in O’Fallon, told the Record.
“They were not thrilled about it. This is how it is in Illinois. What are they doing with the late fees was one of the questions I would hear a lot. Where is it actually going? I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that. I don’t know the answer to that.”
In total, $9.53 million in fees was collected during the five-and-a-half-month span – up from $4.29 million collected during the same period in 2015 when notices were mailed out, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.
“There were a lot more late fees coming through for people that were late,” said Beatty. “You could just tell that people were later than usual to do their renewals.”
Romano’s had enacted a text program to help its customers remember to renew as the business was taking the brunt of complaints about the late fees and wanted to help its customers, Beatty said.
“We had enough a couple of weeks in and we said 'What can we do about this?,'” Beatty said. “We’re all about solutions here. For our customers, we started a list where we text them for free to remind them about the renewals for free out of our office. When they were upset, we at least had that to offer. They were sort of happy even though they received a late fee this time around. It kind of softened the blow to at least have something to offer them.”
White’s office has said license plate renewals will begin getting mailed out in August. White did release a statement saying the burden was too much for Illinois residents to take on. White has urged motorists to sign up for email reminders and reported that 2.3 million people have currently signed up for notices electronically.
“We’ve seen them (license-plate renewal reminders) so they’re coming out already,” said Beatty. “It’s nice to have those for sure.”