DeKALB – Larry Brothers stopped by the Marathon Fas Mart on Sycamore Road in DeKalb Wednesday to fuel up and said he’s worried the Monday gas price hike could affect his monthly finances.
Brothers, 68, of DeKalb, travels throughout the Chicago area as a traveling subcontractor for AT&T. With fuel going for $2.53 a gallon, he said he’d noticed an improvement in prices of late, but wouldn’t appreciate a reversal of that trend.
“It actually came down, it’s better now,” Brothers said about gas prices Wednesday. “But if it’s going back up, we’re still in the same boat. It’s definitely going to affect my finances. I do get paid for my mileage, but not all of it, and you still have to consider tolls, wear and tear on the vehicle.”
With Gov. JB Pritzker signing a new Illinois capital plan into law on Friday, fuel prices are expected to increase by 19 cents a gallon starting on Monday. Many drivers, like Brothers, were surprised to hear about the planned gas hike, plans for which were approved by the Illinois General Assembly in May, along with a $1-a-pack increase in the cigarette tax and a $50 increase in annual vehicle registration fees. Passenger vehicle registration fees will increase to $151 a year.
The increased taxes, along with legalized sports betting and new casinos in Chicago and the suburbs, will fund a six-year, $45 billion capital infrastructure plan that will pay for a variety of projects, including projects to repair roads and public buildings. The taxes are expected to double the nearly $1.3 million DeKalb County receives for projects, including contributions to the $80 million construction of the Health Informatics and Technology Center on the Northern Illinois University campus.
The gas tax, which will be doubled to 38 cents a gallon, has not increased since 1990. Supporters say the 19-cent hike was needed to account for the past 30 years of inflation. It will continue to rise according to the rate of inflation, with annual increases capped at 1 cent a year, for the next six years. The per-gallon fuel tax is expected to reach 43.5 cents by 2025.
Terry Vonderheide, 65, owner of Carpentry Inc. Remodeling Services in DeKalb, said he puts $70 of gas into his truck’s 30-gallon tank weekly as he travels to Rockford, Batavia, Rochelle, and throughout DeKalb County.
“I think it [stinks],” Vonderheide said. “I don’t understand it, because they’re raising taxes on everything. When it is going to end? I’m the middle guy, and every time I turn around I’m getting hit with another tax. I thought Mr. Pritzker was supposed to help.”
Marathon Store Manager LaNora Douglas said she wasn’t sure what time prices would actually rise, but the company’s corporate fuel department oversees price sign changes remotely from the east coast.
“I have to do what’s called a fuel survey every morning,” Douglas said. “I drive by and see where everybody else is, and I send it out to our fuel department. From there, they decide which way we’re going, up or down, and change [the sign] themselves.”
Gas prices usually rise in the summer months because oil refiners switch to a different blend of gasoline designed to evaporate at higher temperatures to increase engine performance and reduce smog. These alternate blends of gasoline are more expensive to produce.
Brenda Woker, 47, of DeKalb, who filled up at the Hy-Vee station in Sycamore this week, said she hopes that tax will be put to good use.
“I am hopeful if they are going to be able to collect enough money, that they actually do put it toward the roads because our roads are in really bad shape,” Woker said. “I like that those people who drive are burdened with it versus those who aren’t driving. However, we have a lot of out-of-state people who drive through, so it would be nice if that was somehow contributed.”
The new taxes on motor fuel and cigarettes are expected to fund $33 billion of proposed transportation projects such as road and bridge repairs and public transit. In Illinois, state and local sales taxes are also applied to gasoline purchases, and SB1939 will shift 1% of the state’s proceeds from that tax to the road fund annually beginning July 1, 2021.
Linda Buhr, 75, of DeKalb, also refueled at the Marathon on Sycamore Road, and said being retired allows her to cut down on how much she drives when gas prices spike.
“I don’t travel to work every day,” Buhr said. “I’m always conscious of the gas prices. It’s a necessary evil, you have to have it. When the gas prices are higher, I don’t fill up. I do like $20 at a time.”Capitol News contributed to this report.
Source: The Daily Chronicle