Homewood approves 3-cents per gallon gas tax

A 3-cent per gallon tax on gasoline from Homewood pumps was approved by the village board at its July 9 meeting. 
As of July 1, towns in Cook County can institute a tax on gas as part of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “Rebuild Illinois” program, which aims to fund improvements to roads, bridges, water infrastructure and other projects. The maximum municipal tax allowed under the new law is three cents.
The state’s motor fuel tax also increased by 19 cents per gallon July 1. It’s the first increase since 1990. 

Critics say the tax hike will encourage drivers to fill up in Indiana, where gas taxes are lower.
Homewood receives about $490,000 in motor fuel tax (MFT) funds from the state annually, according to village documents. That funds street paving and improvements but also pays for things like the purchase of rock salt. The village repaves about seven streets per year, in addition to replacing damaged curbs and sidewalks. Rock salt spending varies depending on the severity of winters.
“Due to the limited amount of MFT funds we receive, we have been unable to maintain streets as much as they should be, resulting in many streets being in significant disrepair,” Village Manager Jim Marino said in a memo to the board. 
The municipal tax is expected to generate about $400,000 dollars annually. State government has also committed to increasing MFT funds for towns by up to 50 percent.
Marino projected the annual MFT budget at over $1.1 million, based on an average of the last four years combined with the state commitment and new municipal tax revenue. That would more than double the money earmarked for road improvements.
The 20 streets in Homewood determined to be most in need of resurfacing could potentially be finished by the end of 2021 with the added revenue. Some of those streets wouldn’t be improved until 2024 without it, according to Marino’s projections.
“No one wants to see a tax increase, but we also want to maintain our streets. We want our streets to be clear of snow,” Trustee Barbara Dawkins said. “This is a tax that, when you look at it, for a 20-gallon tank of gas, we’re talking about 60 cents. I think it’s well worth 60 cents to have clean streets.”
In other business, Dennis Peters was sworn in as police department records clerk. Peters worked for the East Hazel Crest police department for 28 years, retiring as a sergeant. He was hired by Homewood police on a part-time basis in October of 2017. 
The board also approved a $35,000 financial incentive request for Gloria Jean's Coffee at 18322 Governors Highway, part of the Cherry Creek Shopping Plaza. The request came under the village’s facade improvement and retail enhancement programs. It will pay for about 5 percent of an interior renovation and new drive-through facility.

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