WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Macomb Sales Tax Hike Referendum

Oct 4, 2010

Macomb, IL – There is no denying Macomb's roads are in need of repair. The question is: are voters willing to approve a sales tax hike to speed up the repair process?

The city already collects a half-cent sales tax for roads. It generates about $900,000 per year. $600,000 is needed for maintenance, which leaves just $300,000 to put toward larger street repair projects.

The city believes more major work could be done if voters approve an extra half-cent. The referendum will appear on the November 2 ballot.

Macomb City Administrator Dean Torreson said the town has about $24 million worth of road repair needs. He said there is a reason why streets fell into disrepair.

"There simply hasn't been enough revenue to fix the streets the way they need to be maintained," Torreson said. "Our city is not alone. I'd say that's almost universal around the country."

If the extra half-cent is approved, the city will receive an estimated $1.8 million per year for road repairs. It will continue to spend around $600,000 per year on maintenance and will have more money for big projects.

Torreson said the city is still reviewing whether to issue bonds if the referendum is approved. Bonding would allow the city to do some projects sooner.

"The cost of construction has historically gone up faster than the rate of inflation," Torreson said.

The city could then use some of the sales tax revenue to pay off the bonds.

Torreson said the city will still have road repair needs ten years from now, even if the referendum is approved. But the extra money will allow Macomb to make major strides.

"The extra $900,000 per year over the next ten years can really do a lot. You can tackle a lot of projects that really need to be done in this community," Torreson said.

Torreson said the sales tax money has been and will continue to be spent exclusively on road, bridge, and culvert projects. He said none of the money has been spent on other needs.