By Benjamin Yount
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The State of Illinois may have to buy some four-wheelers of its own if it wants to collect a new $15 ATV registration fee.
Starting as early as next month, Illinois will charge anyone who owns an ATV, UTV, golf cart or just about anything else with four wheels and an engine a new fee to “maintain state parks.”
“I think most ATV riders won’t buy the sticker until they’re caught without one,” Karen Overturf, an ATV owner and dealer, told Illinois Watchdog.
Chris McCloud, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said the $15 tax is simply a “user fee” aimed at improving Illinois’ long-ignored state parks.
“In other words you (pay the $15) and you will reap some of the benefits of that money coming in,” McCloud said.
But Overturf doesn’t see any benefit for most Illinois ATV owners. “I think it’s just a money grab,” she said.
McCloud hopes the state will raise enough money to add ATV trails to state parks, or even build an ATV-only park somewhere in Illinois.
Currently, ATV owners can only ride on private land.
“If I am riding on my 3 acres,” Overturf said, “who has the right to come onto my property and tell me I need a sticker?”
It will be complicated just to figure out who will need a sticker.
“This won’t include your ATV if you’re on private property that an individual resides on. … If you use your ATV for livestock or farming work, you’ll be exempt,” McCloud said. “If you use golf carts for business. In other words, a golf course owner is not going to have to register his entire fleet of golf carts for this fee.”
But if you drive a golf cart around town, or around a campground, you’ll have to pay $15 a year. You’ll also have to pay if you ride your ATV on land you own if you don’t live there.
“There are a lot of detailed questions we will be able to answer once the rules are finalized,” McCloud added.
Lawmakers will have to write those rules, and public hearings could come as soon as October.
ATV owners will have to buy their first stickers in January, and can find them at any store that sells hunting or fishing licenses.
“I think it’s going to come down that ATV dealers will have to collect the fees,” Overturf said from her dealership in Springfield. “The state will (likely) have us collect the fee at the point of sale.”
Contact Benjamin Yount at BYount@Watchdog.org and find him on Twitter @BenYount.
Posted Sept. 20, 2013