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Letter to the Editor: Tax Hike Not Necessarily Solution for Street Repair

Trustee Stan Bond explains his thinking on the proposed sales tax increase.

I am writing on the issue of raising Montgomery's sales tax rate because the Ledger Sentinel has chosen to editorialize in favor of it and I think additional points of view would be useful to the public discussion. The key argument seems to be a need for road repair.

Montgomery's revenue from sales tax has already increased 110% between 2004 and 2010, from $1.26 million to $2.59 million a year. This increase is the result of business growth, not tax increases. During this period, the village has realized a whopping $4,589,302 in additional sales tax revenue over the 2004 baseline. Did we spend that extra money on road rebuilding and repair? Not so much.

Montgomery's spending on road repair and rebuilding during these years of budget growth remained pretty constant, at least until 2007 when we began buying road salt from motor fuel tax revenues and thereby spent considerably less each year on road repair. Also frustrating to me is that the monies we receive each year from township road and bridge repair fund contributions (about $125,000 last year) have been dumped into the general fund rather than set-aside for road repair.

So, if road repair and rebuilding is the reason we need to raise sales tax rates now, in the worst economy since the Great Depression, why didn't we use the $4.5 million windfall from earlier growth in sales taxes for road repair? And what assurance might the public have now that revenues from an increase in the sales tax rate would be restricted to future road repairs?

Can we even manage the $2 million per year in road construction projects being tossed around as driving the need for this sales tax increase? Such expense would be a 5 fold increase in construction activity over what we do now.

I think there's more to this issue than a casual glance will reveal. Montgomery's revenues have increased dramatically over recent years, and yet here we are talking about underfunding of critical needs. Clearly we got to this place because of past spending choices and not because of any revenue shortfall. As early as 2003, Village staff and Board were warned about the risks of failing to set-aside sufficient funds for road rebuilding and repair.

As a new Board Member, I was not involved in developing previous budgets, but I am looking forward to my first turn at future budgeting. The question for me is: "Why weren't the revenues the village enjoyed through this period of growth enough to keep pace with maintaining our roads?"

Montgomery's general fund revenue has grown from $5.87 million in fiscal year 2005 to $8.65 million in fiscal year 2011. That's a 47% increase! Our cumulative revenue growth from that 2005 baseline has yielded an extra $2.78 million in spendable cash. Was that additional revenue used for road repair and rebuilding? Well, again, not so much.

Personally, I must be from Missouri, because I'm still not convinced on this issue. If you have an opinion, I think the Board of Trustees would appreciate hearing from you now, while we're still deliberating. You are welcome to speak at any board meeting or to write any of your 6 Trustees or the Village President. Please do. To follow is a link to their contact info: http://www.ci.montgomery.il.us/board.htm

Stan Bond
Montgomery Village Trustee

 

Send letters to the editor to Andre Salles at andre.salles@patch.com.

Matt Walker October 06, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Having been born in Missouri, I share Mr. Bond's skepticism regarding the tax hike. Where are the guarantees from the Village that money raised through this sales tax increase will be set aside for road maintenance? If what Mr. Bond says is true about township road and bridge repair contributions being dumped into the general fund, what is to stop the new tax revenue from following that same pathway to oblivion? I read the arguments in the Ledger about this tax not being borne solely by Montgomery residents, but as a resident of the Lakewood Creek Subdivision, I know that many of my neighbors shop at the Wal-Mart in Montgomery because it is accessible and inexpensive. From what I hear about the proposed hike, these families would be subject to pay the increased sales tax at a time when many are living paycheck to paycheck, and facing increased fees across the board. Foreclosures are on the rise, Governor Quinn significantly raised the state income tax, the Tollway is going to dramatically increase the cost of tolls for commuters in Montgomery and elsewhere, and METRA wants to implement a 30% fare hike. How much more are local governments going to squeeze out of working families before there is nothing left? I am glad that Stan Bond is raising questions about this proposed tax increase. Rest assured that there are plenty of people that will work with Mr. Bond and others to do whatever is necessary to make sure that this referendum is dead on arrival.
Linda Pasetti-Olson October 06, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Stan - It appears there was a large influx of money coming into the village over the past several years, and yet currently we are in dire needs of funds. Since that money obviously wasn't used to maintain the roads, how were the funds used ?? Was that how we paid for the new city hall offices to be built (and now maintained) ??
Greg Nelson October 06, 2011 at 04:09 PM
Like many in our Village we are all worried that funds collected are not spent correctly. With Stan and others now moving our Village back from the cliff it will take time to correct the miss steps of our past. I think we must NOT add to the tax side and drive other businesses away. I think the biggest solution is promotion of our low tax rates and aid our current and future business owners to add valued dollars to the budget and spend those dollars correctly the first time! MORE SALES = MORE TAX DOLLARS ----simple math always works best!
John Shoemaker October 06, 2011 at 11:15 PM
In respose to Matt , as Aurora Township Highway Commissioner I am the taxing body that is respondsible for collecting the road and bridge taxes in question, The VOM is not in a position to place funds into a general account and spend Tax Dollars collected in Aurora Township in Kane County outside of that district. I will begin an immediate investigation as how to rememdy use of Highway Tax Dollars for General purposes. The current law doesn't place the checks and balances Highway Commissioners need to verify appropriate use.
Patricia Marsh March 13, 2014 at 01:25 PM
I would like to ask what has changed in Mr. Bonds view that now he is in favor of the sales tax?

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