MT. VERNON — The chances of local governments getting more funding to improve damaged roads are pretty slim unless some major changes are implemented at the state level, said State Sen. Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville.
Luechtefeld hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Jefferson County Courthouse to discuss Motor Fuel Tax funding, the dismal state of Illinois’ finances and a variety of other issues.
The main problem with road funding, he said, is the amount of money being generated from Motor Fuel Tax has stayed flat in recent years while road maintenance costs have gone up.
This has put counties and townships in a very difficult position since they don’t have sufficient funds to keep local roads in good shape.
“In the process, it becomes almost impossible for you as township commissioners or even as county people to really get roads under control,” Luechtefeld said.
Wednesday’s meeting was organized by Jefferson County Board Chairman Robert White, who invited Luechtefeld to clear up certain misconceptions regarding Motor
Fuel Tax funds and how they are distributed. About 25 people attended the session.
To White, a major problem is that the state is diverting these funds and using them for purposes other than roads and bridges.
“That money’s collected and really it’s supposed to be taxation with representation, right?” White said. “It’s supposed to go to fix roads and bridges. Well, I don’t think that’s happening. I think there’s a diversion of funds when they collect it and then what’s remaining gets disbursed.”
Luechtefeld explained Motor Fuel Tax revenue has remained flat because it’s based on fuel usage. With more efficient cars on the road, less fuel is being purchased, he said.
Several options may be considered by the Legislature for addressing the road funding problem. They include raising the gas tax, diverting more sales tax funds to roads and bridges, or approving a new capital bill, he said.