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Government Local

Sycamore gas tax still bolsters roads

SYCAMORE – A two-cent gasoline tax Sycamore leaders implemented five years ago has generated more than $1 million to help repair the aging streets in the city.

Since 2008, the gasoline tax has contributed $1.2 million to the city’s street maintenance fund.

First Ward Alderman Alan Bauer already has seen the effects of the gasoline tax in his own ward, which has some of the oldest streets in the city. Kishwaukee Drive used to be in poor condition until it was rebuilt two summers ago, he said. 

“If you drive around Sycamore, you’ll notice, by golly, they’re getting better,” Bauer said.

This summer the city plans to fix portions of 12 streets, including Parkmoor Court, Lincoln Street and Home Street, Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said. City officials identified about 74 streets and alleys that needed repairs. In the four years after this year, the city will be able to address them, he said. The estimated cost of the repairs is $4.8 million.

The gasoline tax is one of the many sources of revenue for the street maintenance fund. The fund also is supported by the 0.5 percent sales tax and state motor fuel tax. In the most recent fiscal year, which ended April 30, the local gasoline tax generated $239,433, while the 0.5 percent sales tax generated more than $1 million and the state motor fuel tax generated $505,068. 

The city decided to implement the gasoline tax along with a 0.5 percent increase in the city’s sales tax to address the long list of streets needing repairs. 

“We’ve got an obligation to maintain the infrastructure and many years prior to 2008, there were very limited funds available,” Gregory said. 

The gasoline tax will continue to be used because not all the streets can be repaired at once, Gregory said. As soon as one street is fixed, several others are getting older and will soon need repairs, too.

Each spring the city evaluates the streets and decides which ones need repair based on how damaged they are, Bauer said. Evaluations happen in the spring to take into account any damage sustained during the winter season.

Once the streets are evaluated, they are put on a list that prioritizes which ones will be fixed during the summer depending on the damage, he said.

Bauer said street repairs have become less expensive because sewer systems are not removed. Instead, the black top on the street is peeled off, the curbs are replaced and a new surface is put on, he said.

Once the city has repaired the streets that need it, the city can continue to maintain the streets it already has improved, Gregory said. 

“It will, in a long run, allow us to keep the streets smooth and also extend the longevity of the streets,” he said. 

By the numbers

Sycamore city officials has three funding sources for street improvements. Here’s how much they have received from each source in the past five years.

              Local Gas Tax      Local Sales Tax        State Gas Tax

FY 2008: $237,230.45         $683,843.38              $402,115.65 

FY 2009: $231,679.12         $883,191.48              $388,134.80 

FY 2010: $222,516.70         $792,287.15              $453,594.57 

FY 2011: $246,338.35         $906,058.02              $510,046.60 

FY 2012: $239,433.85         $1,077,933.61           $505,068.40

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