Gas tax hike plan has Urbana council support

URBANA — Council members Monday night narrowly supported Mayor Laurel Prussing's plan to raise the city's gas tax ahead of schedule to match the change at the pumps in Champaign.

Urbana's gas tax stands at 2.4 cents per gallon now. It's scheduled to rise to 2.8 cents in July, but Prussing has proposed to raise the tax to 4 cents to match the rate that became effective in Champaign this month.

In a preliminary vote, council members supported her plan 4-3. They are scheduled to take a final vote at their next meeting.

"I don't think there's going to be any price difference if we raise ours to 4 cents, and we certainly do need the revenue," Prussing said.

Budgeters are expecting that the gas tax at the current 2.4-cent rate will bring in $442,000 by the time the fiscal year closes at the end of June. They estimate it could bring in just more than $736,000 at the 4-cent rate.

"We have no shortage of roads that need a lot of attention," Prussing said.

Diane Marlin, D-Ward 7, voted against the rate hike. She said the city should stick to the schedule it approved in 2010, which would raise the tax to 2.8 cents in July and then add a final increase to 3.2 cents in 2013.

"We have raised a number of taxes and fees, and they do add up," Marlin said. "From my perspective, I've done enough."

Heather Stevenson, R-Ward 6, and Dennis Roberts, D-Ward 5, also opposed the fee. Roberts called it a "difficult vote."

"We have increased the revenue of the city in many ways, and we have brought a huge savings to the city in the aggregation of electricity," he said.

Brandon Bowersox, one of the four who voted to move forward with the tax hike, said the people he has talked to are willing to pay the tax if it means their roads will be fixed.

"Our streets are just crumbling if you drive anywhere in Urbana," Bowersox said. "Our streets are in the worst disrepair that I can remember."

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Karen Rasmussen wrote on May 15, 2012 at 10:05 am

When Champaign instituted its gas tax 5/1, we started filling up in Savoy. We find it's not really any further than N. Prospect. While we're there, it's easy to go to Schnucks and other stores too. So, if Urbana increases its tax, we'll just spend more in Savoy and avoid Urbana as well as we avoid Champaign. It's simple - we can't afford such increases, and we go where our dollars stretch.

 

serf wrote on May 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm

If you want to stretch your dollars, quit shopping at Schnuck's.

woopitydo wrote on May 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

I'm confused. I filled up last week in Champaign on my way to work, it was clearly 4 cents less in Champaign than Urbana at that time. How charging more price/tax matching? And how did the city provide savings by aggregating the power? Wasn't there always an option to buy your power through another source and not just Ameren? This is not my opinion they are my questions so not need to attack me :)

serf wrote on May 15, 2012 at 3:05 pm

No, it was only a few years ago that the electricity market was deregulated.  Prior to that, Ameren was the ony company you could purchase electricity from.

 

The city provided savings by buying in bulk.  It's the same concept involved buying a ten pound bag of potatoes instead of a two pound bag.  

avieira wrote on May 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

4 cents/gallon means a grand total of $0.80 for a 20-gallon tank. Are folks really going to the trouble of travel aaaaaaaaaaall the way somewhere else for $0.80?

So here it is:

Let's assume that one's vehicle makes 20 miles/gallon in the city and the drive to Savoy is 5 miles. That trip alone will cost the driver 1/4 gallon of gas, $0.95 (assuming $3.80/gallon gas). Since when you drive to the station you still have to drive back home, you will spend for that money saving trip a total of $1.90. Does it really make sense to spend $1.90 in order to save $0.80? You literally are spending twice what you were refusing to pay to begin with. Plus, the $1.90 only benefits the oil supplier, as opposed to the $0.80 benefitting the town you live in, your community, the place you call home.

Musings to think about it before we get all up in arms just to disagree.

Peace.

sameeker wrote on May 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Always somebody wanting to point out that "it's just a little bit". Well let us think about that for a minute. Add a couple bucks a week to the gas bill. Add 5 a month to the power bill. Add 50 bucks a year to the property tax. Add 25 a year to the cable bill. kick the sales tax up 1%. Throw in a drainage tax. Etc. etc. In the end, people are paying several hundred more a year in "little" increases. Both cities have been recieving tax dollars for years and the roads still stink. Whenever construction is done, it is on something that does not need fixing. Both cities can't resist raising something when the other does. Monkey see - monkey do.

Now look at it the other way. What if the people went on a general strike for a small wage increase to keep up with their costs. There would be such an outcry from those who are in favor of the taxes. They would be labled as lazy bums. The city governments would be on the side of the employers. In fact, they would move with force against the strikers. Enough already. The people can't afford to pay anymore.

David Illinois wrote on May 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

Urbana going from 2.4% to 4% is the same 67% increase that the State of Illinois applied to our income tax...thank you very much!

And I love this gem: Bowersox said. "Our streets are in the worst disrepair that I can remember."  How old is Bowersox, like 25? 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm

It would save significant money, and less tax increases if the cities merged.  One municipal government, one police force, one fire department, one parks department, one school system, and one set of priorities.  It would be easier for merchants to do business.  Call it Busey-Carle, Shampoobanana, whatever....  It is silly to have two cities with one street dividing them.

Nightrider wrote on May 16, 2012 at 6:05 am

I agree with David Illinois and his take on Brandon Bowersox. This guy is something else! I'm glad he is not my representative... anyone ever watch the him during the Urbana City Council meetings? I can't stand the alternative whiner types. I recall watching a meeting they had with discussions of BICYCLE REPAIR STATIONS. Yes that's right BICYCLE REPAIR STATIONS! They had big discussions on where to place these new bike stations so that the poor residents of C-U that have to use a bicycle to get around town will have a set of FREE BICYCLE TOOLS availble for them to use. Does this not say it all? Now we have to provide BICYCLE REPAIR STATIONS because bike users can't afford to take their bike's to Durst Cycle and pay out of their pockets like I have to do when I take my CAR to get an oil change. I'm sure it was "Grant" money so it is okay, right? Come on people, stop it! 

When Bowersox made this comment: "Our streets are just crumbling if you drive anywhere in Urbana,"...and... "Our streets are in the worst disrepair that I can remember." It made me think does he actually drive anywhere? I got a feeling that he is one of the bicycle riders not a car driver! So these BICYCLE REPAIR STATIONS should benefit him well just not the majority of the rest of us....