By Alex Haglund
County engineer and highway department head Mitch Burdick presented a resolution to the County board at their regular November meeting held on Tuesday, November 15.
The resolution compared the estimated amounts of motor fuel tax (MFT) monies coming in and asks that the revenues be distributed in a way that aligns closely to use of a given road system– allow local, township and county roads to get a proportion of already-collected MFT revenue that matches the amount that these roads are driven compared to state roads.
The proportion of traffic that these local systems see is roughly 40-percent of total traffic, compared to about 60-precent (56-percent actually) that the state system is used.
Why are the local systems are seeking 40-percent though, when the Illinois Department of Transportation only gets 56-percent? Shouldn’t that be enough?
“There is money missing,” Burdick said, regarding MFT funds collected which aren’t going to the taxing districts or to IDOT.
Burdick said that the split that the county engineers are asking for in this resolution, which is non-binding and completely informational, would be roughly equivalent to the split of the actual funds that were distributed in 1983– the split of traffic usage is roughly the same now as then, but the revenue distribution has changed to favor the state system.
The issue had not been addressed in the past because roads, whether on the state system, county or township, “all the roads in the state were looked at as being part of one system,” Burdick told the board, but added that in more recent years, “the cooperative nature that was there is no longer there.”
Burdick added that if steps weren’t taken to insure funding on a local level, decision would need to be made in the future: either on what level of upkeep was affordable or on how to bring in enough funds to pay for keeping the same level we utilize now.
If this resolution actually was passed and heeded, the state would still need to make up for the funds which, while now being collected, don’t make it to the road systems. If these monies were being collected, would taxes need to be raised to take up the shortfall from, wherever it is that they are currently going?
County Board member Paul Todd brought up the question about taxes. Burdick stated again that the resolution he was presenting was informative and non-binding.
“There’s nothing in the resolution asking for additional tax revenue,” said Burdick.
“No,” said Todd, “but it suggests it.”
“What we’re trying to do is ask that the local share of revenue that is already being collected is actually distributed to the locals,” said Burdick.
County Board members Eric Brammeier and Angie Lisk asked Burdick what, if anything, this resolution and the Illinois road funding “Lockbox” ballot initiative which passed in November’s general election would have to do with one another.
Burdick stated that the resolution he was putting forth, backed by the Illinois Association of County Engineers, was in the works before the lock box vote passed.
Burdick was straightforward in his recommendation of the resolution, the passage of which was also recommended by the county board’s road committee.
“I do recommend it,” Burdick said, saying that local roads systems not getting the proper funded that they needed, that was due to them, that was already collected was a problem especially because, “nobody is talking about it.”
“The local governments are being marginalized because nobody is talking about it,” Burdick went on, but said that legislators in Springfield might not be talking about it because they simply did not know about, and they might know more, and be willing to do more, “if local elected officials lent their voices,” this resolution.
The board decided to hold off for the immediate time being though. The resolution had just been added to the board’s agendas a short time before the meeting, and they decided to table the resolution until a special meeting being held on Tuesday, November 22, and vote on it then. (This special meeting will be happening after the deadline for this edition of The Nashville News but before it hits area news vendors).