Des Plaines plans tax on drivers who use compressed natural gas
Des Plaines plans to tax drivers who fuel their vehicles with compressed natural gas, with an eye toward gaining revenues from a new gas station expected to open at Mannheim and Higgins roads.
City officials believe their proposed tax -- 4 cents per gallon -- will maintain a competitive advantage over Chicago's 5-cent-per-gallon tax.
Chicago officials have long-contemplated opening a compressed natural gas fueling station at O'Hare International Airport, but so far haven't. In Des Plaines, such a station is proposed as part of a $28 million redevelopment of the northeast corner of Mannheim and Higgins. Construction on the station is expected to begin in June and be complete by November.
"Given the proximity to O'Hare, this represents a significant market for the city to capture tax revenue from the sale of compressed natural gas," said Lauren Pruss, Des Plaines' economic development coordinator.
Des Plaines does have two compressed natural gas fueling stations within city limits -- at Ozinga, a concrete company, and Gas Technology Institute, an energy research and development firm. The tax will apply to retail sales at those stations, but they have limited retail operations, city officials said.
No other suburban towns near the airport have a tax on compressed natural gas, officials said; the next-closest retail stations are more than 10 miles away.
Des Plaines leaders say they're applying the same tax that they already have on other fuels to maintain roads and pay for capital infrastructure projects.
The state of Illinois collects a 19- cent-per-gallon tax on compressed natural gas, as it does on gasoline.
In a first reading vote Tuesday, Des Plaines aldermen voted 4-3 in favor of the tax.
Alderman Malcolm Chester, who voted against, said the city should be encouraging the use of compressed natural gas, which is a cleaner and more environmentally-friendly fuel.
A final vote is scheduled for March 7.