News - McHenry County

Woodstock approves 3-cent gas tax, $10M bond for roads

Council unanimously votes to help fund 2020 road resurface plan

Woodstock Mayor Brian Sager discusses the intent to issue a three-cent gas tax and issuance of $10 million bond to a crowd of 20 people at Tuesday night's City Hall meeting.

Woodstock City Council members voted Tuesday night to authorize the issuance of a $10 million bond to repair streets and a 3-cent gas tax to help pay off that debt.

“It’s really important that we get in front of this again. The only way to get in front of this is to make a major investment over the next five years in our street improvement,” Mayor Brian Sager said. “We are investing right now $2.5 million a year to try to upgrade our streets, but it only takes care of a small portion of the improvements because street improvements are so costly.”

No residents spoke out about this move during the meeting.

The move comes as a part of the 2020 Streets Resurfacing Program to improve the conditions of the city’s roads. The 3-cent motor fuel tax is proposed to go in effect Jan. 1.

Council members recognized that although Illinois residents pay a great deal in taxes, the 3-cent motor fuel gas tax must go forward.

“We don’t take a 3-cent gas tax lightly. Not at all. We take it very seriously, in fact. That’s taking money out of people’s pockets, no matter how small,” Deputy Mayor Michael Turner said. “I believe in this state in particular, the property taxes we pay, we pay way too much in taxes. The reality, though, is that if we want these roads fixed, we want to put a significant amount of investment in them. This is the only way we can do it.”

The city has an annual budget of $2.5 million, funded by property and sales taxes, for street maintenance, but repairs need “aggressive” action, Sager said in a prior meeting.

The average road in Woodstock is in poor condition, reports engineering firm Hampton Lenzini and Renwick, Inc. The city aims to rehabilitate 20% of the roads by 2020. City officials expect to begin construction May 1.

“This is something that’s been on our scope for a while that we’ve had to wrestle with. How to improve the conditions of the road. Every time the temperature goes above or below 32, put another crack in a road, because that’s exactly what happens. That’s just the nature of where we live,” Turner said.

The mayor said during the Dec. 3 meeting that Woodstock’s streets program are its No. 1 priority. The city roads are steadily deteriorating each year due to cold weather, according to city documents. The proposal includes plans to resurface up to 22 miles of roads in “fair to poor” condition out of 117 total miles of roadway. The City Council at its Nov. 5 meeting approved the $947,040 contract with city’s engineering firm, Hampton Lenzini and Renwick, to complete the services.

“We believe with a larger contract, that’s going to put us in a much higher position with many of these contractors,” Sager said.

The project is expected to cost $12 million.The 3-cent gas tax will help pay the debt obligation of $600,000 during the 20-year term. City officials anticipate paying off the debt with the $340,000 from the state's increased motor fuel tax and $300,000 from a local gas tax.

Since the 2015 pavement management report from the engineering firm that analyzed the condition of Woodstock streets, the city increased its annual street repair budget from $1 million to $2 million, according to city documents.