$181M in fuel taxes owed to local governments in Illinois

 
 
Updated 11/2/2015 10:54 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The state of Illinois is more than $181 million behind in distributing monthly motor fuel tax revenue to municipalities, counties and other local governments amid the ongoing state budget impasse.

Records from the Illinois comptroller's office show more than $89 million is owed to municipalities and $63.6 million is owed to counties. Another roughly $29 million hasn't been given to smaller townships and road districts, and many rely on the funding for most of their maintenance and repair budgets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I've been around this almost 30 years, and I've never seen anything like this," Bryan Smith, executive director of Township Officials of Illinois, told the State Journal-Register (http://bit.ly/1WrihG0 ).

The state Department of Transportation has told local governments that the funds would be given out when there's a state budget. The fund is expected to grow as the state budget impasse goes on.

Rich Carter, spokesman for the Illinois comptroller's office, said in an email that the comptroller can't release the motor fuel tax funds without a budget, statutory authority or a court order. The funds don't collect interest and can't be used for any other purpose, he said.

The delay in payments, Smith said, is especially hard for small, rural townships where the money goes toward uses such as road repairs and road salt. He said he's hearing "a lot of concerns, especially with winter getting close."

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Rochester Township Commissioner Darrell Maxheimer says the state is $5,000 to $6,000 behind in payments to the township since July 1. The township east of Springfield typically saves the fuel tax funds for major projects, he said, and the funds make up only a small part of the $400,000 annual road budget.

"We are better off than most as far as our local tax base," Maxheimer said. "A lot of the smaller townships pretty much survive on it."

Springfield Budget Director Bill McCarty said the city typically gets $200,000 to $250,000 a month in fuel tax revenue. The city often uses the funds to pay its share of joint projects with the state.

"The irony is, since we're getting delayed, the state is likely getting delayed, too," McCarty said.

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Information from: The State Journal-Register, http://www.sj-r.com

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