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Gas tax rolls in for roads

Towns, counties now seeing increase from taxes you pay at the gas station

Jerry Uranich of La Salle, longtime La Salle businessman who owned the former Beacon gas station not far from the 101 Club, waited for Ron Volpe to open his historic station for the day in La Salle this morning. Uranich doesn’t worry too much about the increased fuel tax, and actually is willing to pay a dime more to fill up, have his oil checked and visit with his friend.
Jerry Uranich of La Salle, longtime La Salle businessman who owned the former Beacon gas station not far from the 101 Club, waited for Ron Volpe to open his historic station for the day in La Salle this morning. Uranich doesn’t worry too much about the increased fuel tax, and actually is willing to pay a dime more to fill up, have his oil checked and visit with his friend.

The higher taxes you’ve been paying at the pump this summer have started trickling in for area municipalities.

“It was really high this month because we’re seeing the effect of the increases,” said Emily McConville, Mendota’s city clerk.

She reported to the city council this week that state motor fuel tax revenue from July and paid in August 2019 for Mendota came in at $24,515 — an 82 percent increase from what came in during the same month the previous year, $13,462.

The state’s increased fuel tax took effect July 1, increasing from 19 cents per gallon to 38 cents.

With city councils and county boards complaining about increasing construction costs and decreases in MFT revenue — citing, in part, more-efficient cars and trucks over the past 15 years — Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation for the fuel tax increase.

The tax provides a stream of tax money dedicated for road repairs and related improvement.

An amendment to the state constitution adopted by Illinois voters in November 2016 prohibits revenues from the Motor Fuel Tax to be used for purposes other than transportation costs, the Illinois Comptroller’s office notes.

The city of Peru reported its August 2018 allotment was $22,504.57.

The August 2019 allotment for was $18,894.34, and then the new “MFT Transportation Renewal Fund” allotment arrived in a separate check for $15,340.61 for a total of $34,234.95, according to the city clerk’s office.

Spring Valley’s city clerk’s office noted that the regular motor fuel tax revenue went down from last August to this August, from $12,149 to $10,256, but an additional check from the added tax came in last month for $8,282.

Spring Valley clerk Becky Hansen said she anticipates people driving less as fuel prices go up. One price-pushing event just occurred in the past week — attacks on Saudi Arabian oilfields. Rebels from Yemen claimed responsibility.

“As soon as they see the gas price go up, people don’t want to drive and do anything,” Hansen said.

However, the price of gasoline does not directly impact the revenue, said La Salle finance director John Duncan IV

“This is a flat tax per gallon. The price of gas shouldn’t impact us,” he said, though factors can cause people to buy more or less fuel in Illinois.

If prices go high, a small portion of people who live near a state line might drive into Indiana, Iowa, Missouri or Wisconsin if they can get it cheaper there, Duncan said.

High gasoline prices can prompt people to fly or take the train or bus or not travel at all, said Duncan. Travel and fuel purchases also go down in December and January.

“We see peaks and valleys at certain times of year,” he said.

But Duncan just buys gas when and where he needs it.

“Regardless of where I fill up, if it’s in the state of Illinois the city of La Salle is getting its fair share of that tax,” he said.

Craig Sterrett can be reached at (815) 220-6935 or ntlocal@newstrib.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_NewsEditor.

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