Rolling Meadows plans to replace vehicle stickers with natural gas tax
Rolling Meadows officials have taken the first steps to levy a new natural gas tax that would replace revenue lost by the expected elimination of city vehicle stickers.
City leaders believe the new tax would generate more funds for local roads than vehicle stickers, which cost $30 for a regular passenger vehicle and bring in about $500,000 annually. But about $100,000 of that covers expenses like printing, processing and postage -- a process city staff has described as time-consuming and inefficient.
The city council voted 4-3 in a first reading tally Tuesday to institute a municipal natural gas tax of $0.05 per therm and dedicate it specifically for the repair, resurfacing or reconstruction of existing roadways. A final second reading vote is planned April 24, but it might not be until at least September that residents and business owners start seeing the charges on their bills.
For the owner of a 1,300-square-foot home with one furnace, the tax would average $38 per year. For a larger home of about 2,500 square feet, the yearly tax is estimated at $70, officials say.
For a 7,000-square-foot business with two furnaces, the tax would be about $140 per year.
Other Northwest suburban towns, including Arlington Heights, Barrington, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estates, Palatine and Wheeling, have a similar tax.
Votes against the new tax included Aldermen Mike Cannon, Tim Veenbaas and John D'Astice, who argued residents' estimated payments could be quite higher in the winter months and if they heat their houses at higher temperatures.
D'Astice also proposed three separate amendments to the ordinance, only one of which passed -- that the money be expressly dedicated to roads. He also proposed the immediate elimination of the city sticker program, or that a portion of sticker fees be refunded to drivers once the gas tax takes effect, but those proposals didn't receive any support.
The council previously decided to sunset vehicle stickers as of December 31, 2018, but since most of the stickers are purchased in June, ending the program now would mean no road funding for 2018, Finance Director Melissa Gallagher said.
Alderman Nick Budmats also suggested not collecting the new gas tax until January to avoid a "perceived double taxation," but that amendment failed.