WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Sales Tax Hike Referendum Likely

Macomb, IL – Macomb aldermen appear to have made a decision on what referendum to place on the November ballot.

They've been reviewing whether to ask for a sales tax hike or ask for voter permission to become a home rule community. During the June 14 Committee of the Whole meeting, they indicated they intend to ask for the sales tax increase.

The money would pay for street and sewer repairs, which Seventh Ward Alderman Clay Hinderliter said are sorely needed.

"I just got to tell you, living in this town as long as I have, previous administrations - the last 20 to 25 years - have done a pretty bad job. Somebody has to start someplace. I think this is the starting point," said Hinderliter.

Second Ward Alderman Ed Lavin has been working a great deal on the sales tax issue.

"I feel we need this," said Lavin.

Lavin was prepared to push for a city council vote as soon as next week, but that might not happen. Aldermen have plenty of time to finalize the proposal. The deadline is near the end of August.

Fourth Ward Alderman Mike Inman pushed for the city to have a projects list ready for voters to review.

"We want to make sure we have a plan in place on how we're going to spend this money," said Inman.

Sixth Ward Alderman Tim Lobdell said the city should use concrete for some streets instead of asphalt overlays. He said concrete will last longer. He also wants to make sure the city does not run out of street construction money after just a few years.

"We need to change our philosophy," Lobdell said. "I support the sales tax referendum. I think we need to put more significant dollars into this and maybe even bond a little bit. But we need to have a revenue stream on the back side that is going to support significant construction every year."

Public Works Director Walter Burnett has indicated the city has about $28 million worth of infrastructure needs right now.

Aldermen also discussed the proposed home rule referendum, which is being promoted by Lobdell and Fifth Ward Alderman Dave Dorsett. But Lobdell and Dorsett agreed more time is needed to educate the public about that idea.