County Board passes gas tax
Megann Horstead – firstname.lastname@example.org | 12/24/2019, 10 p.m.
People driving in and around Will County could find increased prices the next time they fill up at a gas station or truck stop.
Recent action taken by Will County Board to adopt a county gas tax is meant to help provide funding for operating, constructing and improving public highways and waterways, and acquiring property and right-of-ways for public highways and waterways within the county.
The tax, as applied, is 4 cents per gallon of motor fuel. This figure will increase annually in accordance with the consumer price index, or the rate of inflation.
Several board members spoke in favor of the county gas tax.
Jacqueline Traynere (D-Bolingbrook) said kicking the can down the road makes repairs more costly in the long run.
“We need to fix the roads in Will County now and save our residents’ car repair money,” she said.
Several board members voiced concern for the county gas tax and the burden it could create for taxpayers.
Board member Steve Balich (R-Homer Glen) asked to remove the agenda item and send it back to the executive committee for further review
“I think we need to have real good discussion, so I want to send it back to the executive committee so we can get better discussion and bring up all the issues,” he said.
Board member Joe VanDuyne (D-Wilmington) took issue with that sentiment, saying that enough is enough.
“All the information about this topic has been provided for many months,” he said. “There’s been plenty of opportunity.”
The county hosted a number of town hall meetings in recent months to inform Will County residents of the proposed county gas tax.
“I consider this another stall tactic,” VanDuyne said, referring to Balich’s request.
Several Republican members of the county board believe the Democrats are failing to listen to the concerns raised by residents.
At the same time, not every Democrat was on board with supporting the county gas tax.
Board member Rachel Ventura (D-Joliet) broke party lines during the meeting, siding with Republicans. She said she wants to ensure there is a property tax relief to homeowners before adopting any county gas tax.
“While I am at 100% of support of raising road maintenance revenues primarily from the heavy users of roadways, like our trucks, I cannot support this proposed raising of gasoline tax on top of what the state has already increased without being prepared to decrease the property tax levy for our county roads,” she said. “My goal in taxation would be to ensure that Will County homeowners experience a decrease in their property tax and the burden of paying for road maintenance is shifted to those heavy users in effect switching the burden from property tax to a user tax.”
The maximum amount the county can tax is 8 cents per gallon of motor fuel, according to county board documents. The rate at which inflation changes the rate is capped at 1 cent annually.
With Ventura and Republicans voting no on this issue, the county board split 12-12.
Will County Executive Larry Walsh Sr. cast the tie-breaking vote to pass the county gas tax.