Mt. Vernon Register-News

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January 28, 2014

Highway resolution tabled

MT. VERNON — A resolution in support for a new transportation infrastructure construction program for state and local governments was tabled Monday by the Jefferson County Board.

County Highway Engineer Brandon Simmons asked for the item to be placed on the agenda under new business.

The resolution is being proposed by the Transportation for Illinois Coalition. The organization is seeking highway user fees, including sales tax receipts attributed to the purchase of motor fuels, that will be directed exclusively to transportation agency operations.

Simmons mentioned the 2009 capital funding program known as “Illinois Jobs Now” will expire on July 1, which will result in a steep decline in transportation construction projects. Simmons stressed the resolution is non-binding at this point, although the organization has presented HB 3337 and SB 2589 to the Legislature.

“We are asking that a discussion begin on revamping MFT (motor fuel tax) laws,” Simmons said. “MFT monies have been stagnant for several years.”

Board Chair Robert White said he is not against a discussion of re-alignment, although he is concerned the funds may be diverted to other programs, using the example of a similar program proposed by Gov. Blagojevich several years ago that diverted funds to the All-Kids program — an insurance program for youth. The program was essentially shut down when the Affordable Health Care Act was enacted.

White asked Simmons to have a representative of the TFIC attend a future County Board meeting to discuss the intent of the resolution and where the money goes for funds collected from the tax.

Jeff Fletcher, who identified himself as a new resident of the county, addressed the board about a garbage problem in the George Street area. He said he had already addressed the city about the problem, which according to ordinance, is restricted to buildings within 1 1/2 miles of the city limits. Fletcher questioned why the county is not enforcing its garbage ordinance and collecting fines and fees.

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