As state withholds Motor Fuel Tax, village’s street repair fund could run dry

Elm Street in the Flossmoor Hills neighborhood is the
longest street that was resurfaced this year
as part of the MFT-funded program. 

(Photo by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle)

Flossmoor’s yearly road resurfacing program is complete and the village is preparing to buy road salt to make winter driving less treacherous.

But, as the state budget impasse continues, revenues that fund those expenditures will soon be nearly depleted.

Flossmoor and other municipalities across Illinois rely on state Motor Fuel Taxes (MFT) to pay for road repairs, new sidewalks, salt and other street projects. The state continues to collect 19 cents from every gallon of gas sold in Illinois but has not passed those revenues on to cities and villages for nearly three months.

Illinois still has no budget as the stalemate between Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers is about to enter its sixth month. The state comptroller, appointed by Rauner, says Illinois is running out of money and increasingly refuses to release funds that have been collected – like MFT – to the municipalities that should be receiving the revenues.

Flossmoor Finance Director Scott Bordui said this week that the village has not received MFT revenues since July. In the past, Flossmoor received between $20,000 and $25,000 each month from the gas taxes, he said.

“Number One, there is not enough money for the state to pay its bills,” Bordui said. “Number Two, there is no budget.” He also said the state is about a month behind in its distribution of income tax revenues to municipalities.

Flossmoor’s annual street resurfacing program is a relatively modest affair that targets the local byways that have been determined to be in the worst shape. Nine streets were resurfaced this summer – a total of 1.34 miles – at a cost of $265,000. Bordui said Gallagher Asphalt of Thornton will be paid for the work after it submits its invoice to the village next month.

This year’s road salt purchase will cost about $50,000, which is actually lower than expected.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said there is currently a balance of about $390,000 in Flossmoor’s MFT fund. She said the MFT fund also pays for smaller projects, such as street striping, but that the road resurfacing and salt are always the two biggest expenses.  

Village officials are keeping a close eye on the MFT fund as the state continues to withhold payments, Wachtel said.

“Yes, the cash flow is a concern and the more time that goes by, it is an increasing concern,” she said. “We are watching the situation closely.”

After Flossmoor pays for the salt and street resurfacing, the MFT fund could be close to depletion within a few months if the budget impasse continues, Bordui said.

Still, he said, the withholding of the MFT money is probably not a long-term problem and should be resolved once Rauner and the General Assembly come to terms over the budget.

“It’s not a question of whether we receive the money,” he said. “It is a question of when we receive it.”

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A great community deserves a great newspaper. The HF Chronicle was created in June 2014 as an online publication. In December 2015 we began monthly print publication, too. Our mission is to chronicle the life of our community — news by, for, and about the people of Homewood and Flossmoor, Illinois.

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