Voters throughout McDonough County will be asked in April to approve a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax to pay for road repairs.
The county said motor fuel tax money currently helps pay for the work, but the amount of fuel tax money it receives has decreased in recent years.
“This is definitely needed and it’s not an exorbitant tax,” said county board member Tony Coniglio before the board voted 20-to-0 in favor of putting the question on the ballot.
The board’s Trevor Toland echoed that sentiment. “It’s a small tax shared equally by everyone,” he said.
Toland said people would pay an extra $25 on every $10,000 spent on taxable goods in the county. The tax will not be imposed on several items:
- Prescription and non-prescription medicines
- Medical appliances and insulin, needles and syringes used by diabetics
- Farm implements, automobiles, and all licensed vehicles
Board member Lee Trotter commended the county board’s road and bridge committee for having the courage to propose the tax.
The committee’s Jerry Tyson said there will be at least two town meetings to explain the need for the tax increase.
Tyson said agriculture is a key driver of economic development in McDonough and county roads are used to move grain. He said deteriorating roads could slow grain shipments and thus slow economic development.
The board’s Clarke Kelso said the county is responsible for 180 miles of roads. “It costs a lot of money to maintain that amount of road,” Kelso said. He said the county highway budget has been strapped for some time.