Will County board to vote on 4-cent countywide gas tax following doubled Illinois tax

Will County board to vote on 4-cent countywide gas tax following doubled Illinois tax

Included in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s capital plan is increased taxing power for some county governments to create or raise countywide gas taxes. Will County could be the first to exercise that authority.

Drivers filling up in Will County could soon lose a small advantage over most of their collar county peers.

On Dec. 5, a proposal to create a 4-cent countywide gas tax passed the Will County Board Public Works and Transportation Committee, sending it to the full county board for a final vote, according to the Herald-News.

The committee passed the tax proposal along party lines, with four Democrats voting in favor of the tax and three Republicans voting against it. The county board vote is Dec. 19.

Will County Director of Transportation Jeff Ronaldson proposed the gas tax in August, estimating a 4-cent tax would generate an extra $12 million annually.

Republicans on the board said the county already will receive an extra $6.2 million from the doubled state gas tax, as well as $23 million in state money for road projects during the next six years. Will County receives $9.2 million from motor fuel taxes at present.

Democrats said the money is needed for infrastructure that will boost economic development and help the county grow.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s $45 billion capital plan, which doubled the state’s gas tax to 38 cents from 19 cents per gallon, brought Illinois’ total gas tax burden to third- from 10th-highest in the nation. According to an Illinois Policy Institute analysis, drivers on average will pay an extra $100 per year for the state gas tax hike. Collectively drivers will pay $1.2 billion a year.

Pritzker’s plan also granted Chicago and the collar counties more authority to tax gasoline, allowing for a motor fuel tax of up to 8 cents per gallon. Currently, only DuPage, Kane and McHenry counties impose a countywide gas tax at 4 cents per gallon. Under the new law, those counties could double their gas tax levies. Will and Lake may enact new ones up to 8 cents per gallon, but Will’s proposal is for half that amount.

If board members approve the tax, Will County would be the first of the counties to take advantage of its new taxing authority.

The county’s proposed gas tax hike would come atop the layers of taxes drivers already pay on gasoline at the state and local levels. In addition to federal, state and local excise taxes on motor fuel, Illinois is one of only a handful of states that applies state and local sales taxes to gas.

Because nearly two-thirds of Illinois’ population resides in the collar counties, additional gas tax hikes by county governments could push Illinois’ overall average gas tax burden above No. 3.

Will County has been shifting from Republican to Democrat in recent years, and Democrats now hold the majority on the county board. If the board vote Dec. 19 remains along party lines like the committee vote, drivers could see extra pain at the county’s pumps soon.

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