Discussion fails to fuel support for Buffalo Grove gas tax
A suggested local gas tax in Buffalo Grove has a long road to travel before village board members reach consensus.
A pair of village trustees declared opposition this week to the proposed tax, which advocates say would help fund road improvements.
The village board's four other trustees, while tepidly open to the idea, disagreed on the amount of a possible tax.
Saying that state motor fuel tax funds received by the village are inadequate to maintain and repair roads, and looking for an alternative to raising property and sales taxes, village administrators have advocated a local gas tax.
Deputy Village Manager Christopher Stilling said 29 of 35 Chicago-area communities surveyed by the village have a similar tax. The average is 3.7 cents per gallon, he said.
A similar tax in Buffalo Grove would pay for the repair and maintenance of 4.73 to 7.58 miles of road over 10 years. But trustees say they are concerned the tax will pose a double whammy, hitting both residents and gas station owners.
Trustee Eric Smith said it would hurt local gas stations because neighboring communities don't impose a gas tax. "Lincolnshire doesn't have one. Palatine doesn't have one. Arlington Heights doesn't have one. Wheeling doesn't have one," Smith said. "Those are our immediate competitors. You're going to hurt our small businesses. Our gas stations are going to get hurt with this."
Stilling, however, pointed out that all but one of Buffalo Grove's gas stations are in Lake County, which has no county gas tax unlike the village's neighbors in Cook County.
While expressing reservations, Trustees Joanne Johnson and Gregory Pike said they prefer a 2-cents-per-gallon tax, while Trustees Andrew Stein and David Weidenfeld said they could back a 1-cent tax. Trustee Lester Ottenheimer III joined Smith in opposing the tax.
"I'm really not for new taxes, but I'm keeping the option on the table," Pike said. "We know we have to pay for road improvements. Where are we going to get that?"
Stilling said the village expects $1.5 million in state motor fuel tax money next year, while needing $3.5 million to $4 million annually to keep pace with road maintenance and repairs.
And delaying road repairs also forces the village to postpone water and sewer improvements, Village Manager Dane Bragg.
"You can't tear the water and sewer mains out and replace them without fixing the street on top of it," he said.