McHenry County Board votes to raise gasoline tax by 3.3 cents per gallon

The increase starts Jan. 1.

Gas in pumped into a car Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023, at the Thorntons on Illinois Route 120 in McHenry.  The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday night to raise the county’s tax on gasoline next year to eight cents per gallon from the current 4.7 cents per gallon.

Drivers stopping at McHenry County gas stations in 2024 will feel a little more of a pinch at the pump.

The McHenry County Board voted Tuesday night to raise the county’s tax on gasoline next year to eight cents per gallon from the current 4.7 cents per gallon.

Local motorists were generally displeased with the tax increase Wednesday.

“I just find the gas tax pathetic,” said motorist Matthew Beyer, who works in Crystal Lake. “I spend too much on gas anyway.”

He wasn’t the only one.

“I’m glad I’m moving,” said motorist Dan Seiwerth of Island Lake. “The taxes are a lot cheaper anywhere else.”

McHenry County created a four-cents-per-gallon motor fuel tax in 1990, according to county documents. After 2019 Illinois legislation indexed the tax to the Consumer Price Index, inflation has pushed the tax to the current rate of 4.7 cents per gallon.

Touting it as a way to help residents deal with high inflation – and also coinciding with last year’s gubernatorial election season – Illinois suspended the inflation adjustment for its portion of the gas tax from July through December 2022, keeping it at 39 cents per gallon. However, the increase to 42 cents went into effect in January, and in July the gas tax climbed again to 45 cents per gallon.

The increase in the McHenry County portion of the motor fuel tax is expected to bring in an extra $3 million per year, according to county documents. Currently, the county fuel tax brings in $4.2 million of revenue.

During a long, lively debate on the tax hike proposal at Tuesday’s county board meeting, many board members expressed that they don’t like raising taxes, but felt they had to vote to increase the gas tax in order to avoid a raising property taxes.

“I don’t want to increase the (property tax) levy,” said board member Terri Greeno, R- Crystal Lake. “It was really tough.”

The 3.3-cents-per-gallon increase kicks in Jan. 1.

The state gas tax is 45.4 cents per gallon, according to the Illinois Department of Revenue website, and federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, according to the EIA website.

According to MyTax Illinois, the gas tax is 4.7 cents in neighboring Kane County, 4.5 cents per gallon in Lake County, 9.1 cents per gallon in DuPage County and 4.7 cents per gallon in Will County.

Greeno wasn’t the only board member who cited the tax levy while voting for the gas tax increase.

“I have fought tooth and nail to keep our levy flat,” board member Jim Kearns said during the meeting. “I’ve always said no to taxes and increases.”

Board member Eric Hendricks, R- Lake in the Hills, said he felt it wasn’t necessary to raise the gax tax or the levy.

“It is a false choice,” Hendricks, who voted against raising the gas tax to eight cents, said after the meeting.

During the debate, board member John Reinert, R-Crystal Lake, proposed only raising the tax by two cents to 6.7 cents per gallon, but the idea failed to pass when board Chairman Mike Buehler cast a tie-breaking vote against it.

Board member Gloria Van Hof, D- Crystal Lake, said she was against raising the gas tax to eight cents, but she voted for the proposal to raise it to 6.7 cents per gallon.

“The 6.7 I can live with,” Van Hof said. “I’m a no vote on the full eight.″

Other members of the board said they felt raising the gas tax was the proper course of action.

“What we have in front of us is the responsible choice,” said board member Pamela Althoff, R- McHenry. “It’s time for us to take action.”

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