News - McHenry County

Woodstock’s proposed 3-cent gas tax moving forward to a vote

No residents voice opinion during Woodstock public hearing

Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager speaks about the need for the local motor fuel tax Tuesday evening, Dec. 3, 2019, during a public hearing on the proposed local motor fuel tax of $0.03 cent per gallon to fund an enhanced 2020 streets resurfacing program in Woodstock at the Woodstock City Council meeting at the Woodstock City Hall.

Woodstock City Council will move forward with its plan to implement a 3-cent local gas tax in an effort to put millions toward its roadways in 2020 and beyond.

The council is considering the issuance of $10 million in bonds to resurface city roads and wants to put the local gas tax in place to help pay off that debt. The bond payment would cost about $636,600 annually for 20 years. The City Council hosted a public hearing on the matter at its Tuesday meeting. No residents offered opinion during the hearing.

“I think all of us in the city of Woodstock would recognize our No. 1 priority today is the improvement of our streets,” Mayor Brian Sager said. “We’ve got to do a better job, and the only way we can do a better job is through money. It costs an incredible amount of money.”

The city is ultimately considering a five-year program that would require between $50 million and $60 million to get city roads in better condition and get repair and maintenance costs less out of hand, he said.

“In order to get in front of the eight ball, we are going to have to put a major infusion of dollars into the streets,” he said. “We have to be able to find the money to make that happen.”

The 2020 proposal includes plans to resurface up to 22 miles of streets out of a total 117 miles in Woodstock. The project could cost up to $12 million and would focus on roads that have been deemed in “fair to poor” condition, according to city documents.

City Manager Roscoe Stelford said the city decided to focus on the “fair to poor” streets because there was less engineering work involved, which could keep costs lower. The city will work with engineers and accountants to determine how to address the “failing” roads over the course of the five-year program.

The $50 million to $60 million figure is an estimate, and the city is working to come up with a solid plan, he said.

“Our focus has been to get year one up and running because of the size and magnitude of the program,” Stelford said.

The first step of the 2020 project already is underway. The city hired engineering firm Hampton, Lenzini and Renwick Inc. to complete engineering services, including evaluations to determine conditions of water mains, sewer and utilities that also may need attention. The city won’t resurface any roads that need underground repairs in the near future.

Crystal Lake-based civil engineering firm Baxter and Woodman completed a pavement management report that analyzed the condition of Woodstock streets in 2015 and found that the average road would be considered in poor condition. The city was spending about $1 million on its streets annually in 2015 and has since bumped the annual street repair budget to $2 million, according to city documents.

Baxter and Woodman recommended spending between $4 million and $5 million a year in order to keep up with deterioration and increase the overall road condition score, according to city documents.

If the plan is approved, work is expected to begin May 1. The city would still have to put the project out to bid and approve contracts for the work. The gas tax is projected to go into effect April 1.

The item was on the agenda for action Tuesday but City Council members are expected to vote on the matter Dec. 17.

Brittany Keeperman

Brittany Keeperman was a Northwest Herald reporter from 2016-19