Gas tax hike on the agenda

Gas tax hike on the agenda

The city council in Champaign is poised to approve a new tax on gasoline.

Champaign residents can't claim they weren't warned about the city council's plan to raise gas taxes by four cents a gallon.

The proposal, initiated by Council Member Thomas Bruno, has been on the drawing board for a couple of months. Council members had planned to pass the proposal in November, but absences from the nine-member council forced a delay until Tuesday.

So opponents of the plan have had plenty of time to make their objections known, and many have taken advantage of the opportunity. Members of both the Champaign-Urbana Fuel Retailers and the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce have bent council members' ears on the subject, but Bruno said he believes he still has the votes to pass it.

There's no question that the city could use the estimated $1.5 million the new tax would raise to fix local streets. But it's our hope the council rejects this idea.

It's not just that the tax is regressive. The biggest problem with the tax is the timing. Illinois and the rest of the United States is in the midst of a very slow recovery that has left too many people unemployed and too many others staggering under the weight of their financial obligations.

Among the many problems people face is the high cost of gasoline. Bruno may well be correct that given $3.50 to $4-a-gallon gasoline a 4-cent tax hike is not a significant percentage increase. But it's still an increase that many people cannot afford.

Further, why should the needs of government always be put ahead of the needs of the citizens the government is supposed to serve?

All the arguments — pro and con — have been made before. All that's left is for citizens to express their final objections to council members before the vote on Tuesday.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
todays-thoughts wrote on February 06, 2012 at 6:02 pm

The News-Gazette has twice now editorialized against the proposed gas tax as if it is luxury item that the City can simply do without. They neglect to mention that many of the city streets are falling apart and in some cases are getting to the point where basic maintenance will no longer suffice and full replacement is required. It would at least help give a balanced picture if they would include a link to the City report that includes detailed information on the matter. The report can be found at<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

The basic truth is that funding for street maintenance and construction from State and Federal levels is flat-lined and in some cases dramatically decreased. The city has tightened its belt considerably with multiple years of budget cuts, including a two million dollar cut in capital improvements. We can stick our heads in the sand and pretend there isn't a problem or we can show leadership as the City Council has done and attempt to address the problem. The News-Gazette would do better to suggest a solution to the problem rather than just portray the City as money grabbing. The comment included in the editorial that states, "Why should the needs of government always be put ahead of the needs of the citizens the government is supposed to serve?" is a stretch to say the least. The citizens are the owner of the streets--the city government is just the caretaker.

Other than human capital the physical asset of the city's street system is likely the most valuable asset of our community--with 284 miles of streets valued at 164 million dollars. The other item of interest that the News-Gazette failed to mention is that since the inception of the 2.7 cent per gallon local motor fuel tax in Urbana there has been no discernible difference in gas prices between Champaign and Urbana.

So we can either ignore the problem like the State government does and wait until it gets insurmountable or we can do something about it while we still can. If the gas tax is not the right funding source, then please News-Gazette tell us what is.


Sid Saltfork wrote on February 06, 2012 at 7:02 pm

An increase in the city's sales tax.  When a community raises taxes on fuel, the fuel vendors in surrounding areas raise the fuel price.  If Champaign wants to raise taxes, that is fine; but for surrounding areas to pay the same cost without the benefit of the tax is a problem.  People may choose to buy items in another community; but they are stuck paying the same price for fuel where ever they live.