McHenry County Board votes to raise gasoline tax by 3.3 cents per gallon

Drivers stopping at McHenry County gas stations in 2024 will feel a little more of a pinch at the pump.

The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday to raise the county's tax on gasoline next year to 8 cents per gallon from the current 4.7 cents per gallon.

Local drivers were generally displeased with the tax increase Wednesday.

"I just find the gas tax pathetic," said Matthew Beyer, who works in Crystal Lake. "I spend too much on gas anyway."

He wasn't the only one.

"I'm glad I'm moving," said Dan Seiwerth of Island Lake. "The taxes are a lot cheaper anywhere else."

McHenry County in 1990 created a 4-cents-per-gallon motor fuel tax, according to county documents. After state legislation in 2019 indexed the tax to the Consumer Price Index, inflation has pushed the tax to its existing rate of 4.7 cents per gallon.

The increase in the McHenry County portion of the motor fuel tax is expected to bring in an extra $3 million per year, according to county documents. Currently, the county fuel tax generates $4.2 million in revenue.

During a long, lively debate on the tax hike proposal at Tuesday's county board meeting, many board members said they don't like raising taxes but felt they had to vote to increase the gas tax to avoid raising property taxes.

"I don't want to increase the (property tax) levy," board member Terri Greeno said. "It was really tough."

McHenry County's 3.3 cents-per-gallon increase kicks in on Jan. 1.

The state gas tax is 45.4 cents per gallon, and the federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.

According to MyTax Illinois, the gas tax is 4.7 cents per gallon in neighboring Kane County, 4.5 cents in Lake County, 9.1 cents in DuPage County and 4.7 cents in Will County.

Greeno wasn't the only board member who cited the tax levy while voting for the gas tax increase.

"I have fought tooth and nail to keep our levy flat," board member Jim Kearns said during the meeting. "I've always said no to taxes and increases."

Board member Eric Hendricks said he felt it wasn't necessary to raise the gas tax or the levy.

"It is a false choice," Hendricks, who voted against raising the gas tax to 8 cents, said after the meeting.

During the debate, board member John Reinert proposed raising the tax by only two cents to 6.7 cents per gallon, but the idea failed to pass when board Chairman Mike Buehler cast a tiebreaking vote against it.

Board member Gloria Van Hof said she was against raising the gas tax to 8 cents. But she voted for the proposal to increase it to 6.7 cents per gallon.

"The 6.7 I can live with," Van Hof said.

Other board members said raising the gas tax was the proper action.

"What we have in front of us is the responsible choice," board member Pamela Althoff said. "It's time for us to take action."

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