Vote on fuel tax to come in early 2016
After hearing mixed reviews from Homer Glen residents in recent weeks on whether to impose a three cent per gallon excise tax on gasoline in the community, the Village Board voted unanimously to draft an ordinance for the fuel tax at its Wednesday, Dec. 9, regular meeting.
The new measure will be voted on early next year — January or February — and would take effect in March if passed. The gasoline would be taxed upon delivery to the local gas stations.
Mayor George Yukich led the discussion by saying he sees some validity in the concerns the people of Homer Glenn have, most notably citing the recession and fixed incomes for families, but sought to reassure them they were in good hands.
“The three cents honestly is going to the parks and recreation and land acquisition,” he said. “We have some property we would like to buy, but there’s no funding for it. Right now, the State of Illinois is still holding back some of our sales tax. That’s what we [as a Village] live off.”
The Village of Homer Glen is not the only community to have pursued a tax on fuel. Neighboring municipalities such as Joliet and Bolingbrook have already introduced similar measures.
Yukich said that Village officials would not seek to use the fuel tax as a long-term solution for funding projects in Homer Glen, saying the Village doesn’t wish to spend any money it doesn’t have to.
“Nothing’s written in stone that this tax stays with us forever,” he said. “If we can get the businesses in there, it helps in two ways.”
The two ways in which it would help would be through property and sales taxes, according to Yukich.
“When it comes to property taxes, we don’t get any of that,” Yukich said. “It goes to the schools. There’s no impact on the schools, so it’s a definite must for the schools.
“Any business that we get in here and they do any kind of sales, now the sales tax comes to us. If we’ve got the money where we don’t have to worry about going in any other direction, we eliminate that gas tax, just as fast as we started.”
Beth Rodgers, a Village trustee, mirrored the sentiment, expressing the importance in understanding where the money goes and why it is necessary to develop an ordinance.
“There’s a misconception that this three cents is exclusive for Woodbine, and it’s absolutely not,” Rodgers said. “I’d like for somewhere in the ordinance to state our current parks’ names, because there’s some confusion in the town over whose part belongs to the Village and whose part belongs to the Township. I’d like to see that [language] in there so that everybody understands it isn’t just a Woodbine thing. Woodbine is a big monster, but there are other little monsters that also need maintenance and improvements.”
Planning study says wetlands play vital role in community
Homer Glen and neighboring municipalities — Homer Township, Lemont, Lockport, Orland Park and Palos Park — have been in talks regarding the development of wetlands in the area over the last few years. During the Village Board meeting Wednesday, Dec. 9, a presentation featured an overview of the Long Run Creek Watershed Study.
Steve Zimmerman, senior ecologist for Applied Ecological Services, defines a watershed study as “a voluntary, community-supported approach to protecting and improving water quality.”
Zimmerman went on to explain the importance of a watershed study.
“Protecting ground water, restoring habit, reducing flooding, providing recreational opportunities for people — so it’s a whole suite of different things that’s covered under watershed planning,” he said.
In pointing out a pair of items on a topographical map of the wetland areas, Zimmerman said there is an area of importance to be noted.
“You see where these drainage paths are and all these dark areas in the soil,” he said. “That’s basically telling you where wetlands were historically. There’s probably drain tiles all over, and you’re draining all of these historic wetlands. But the idea here is in the future when they’re developed is not to go in and massacre these areas, but to actually use the topography and use the areas that were existing wetlands, to do these kind of conservation type of developments.”
Zimmerman concluded the presentation by listing a set of future steps to take, of which includes a motion to adopt the Watershed Plan.