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updated: 5/1/2013 5:57 AM

Carpentersville raises motor fuel tax by two cents

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Carpentersville has raised its motor fuel tax by 2 cents a gallon -- a move that one trustee said was painful but that others said was necessary if the village wants to regularly replace aging equipment and vehicles.

By a vote of 5-1, the board raised the rate to 4 cents a gallon. The hike goes into effect on July 1 and is set to expire in three years.

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Officials hope the new tax will generate $250,000 a year for the capital equipment replacement fund, which they will use to replace old vehicles and equipment. That includes squad cars, ambulances, dump trucks and police vests.

Right now, the board funds it by directing $500,000 from the general fund and $100,000 from the water and sewer fund. Last year, the board also increased the telecom tax by 1.5 percentage points, and the money generated from it went into the capital equipment fund as well. Those actions are expected to continue, even with the new rate increase. There is now $565,885 in the fund.

But authorities said none of those maneuvers were enough for the fund to sustain itself, which prompted Tuesday's action.

"We can't just postpone purchases forever," Village President Ed Ritter said. "Sooner or later, we have to replace equipment."

The new budget is also running a deficit this year and Trustee Paul Humpfer said the new money would also help plug the budget gap.

"(I) don't like doing it, but we need to balance our budget," Humpfer said.

Trustee Pat Schultz voted against the increase because taxpayers are already being hit with higher taxes from the state and with higher gas prices. She also noted that the motor fuel tax used to be 1 cent before the board raised it to 2 cents.

"This is painful, there's no doubt about it, to our residents," Schultz said.

Humpfer is chairman of the audit and finance commission, the body that recommended the rate hike.

He said the committee will review the hike every year and continue to question it. He's also open to the idea of retiring it early if a larger source of funding -- Walmart, for example -- made the tax increase obsolete.

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