Road Referendum Reactions

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

Rockford voters face a difficult decision April 17th. Either pass a referendum that will increase our sales tax by one percent, or continue to bump along our cracked roads.
You've seen the commercials, you've read the signs. But what would passing the roads referendum mean in our every day lives?
For Clifford Deboard, it would mean paying two extra cents for his regular hamburger and coffee. He says that's two cents too many.
"I feel that I'm paying more than my share now and it's gotta stop somewhere," says Deboard.
When you look at larger scale retail, of course those cents add up a little more quickly.
A bedroom set from Furniture Row on East State St. costs $1,838. With taxes right now, you'd pay about $1,971. If the referendum passes, that would increase to almost $1,990. Some shoppers say that's a difference they can live with.
"I'm not going to be going other places to shop, I really like it here and if you think about gas, by the time I would drive somewhere I'm way past that penny," says Rockford Resident Laura Borghi.
Right now, our sales tax rate is 7.25 percent. That's on the lower end of the scale for towns of our size in the area. But enough yes votes in April would bring our rate to 8.25. That's close to par with several Chicago suburbs.
Shoppers are divided over whether the increase would be enough to drive people away.
"It would be more likely that we're not going to come in here I mean who wants to pay more for things," says Rockton Resident Mary Grace Cellers.
"We still go into Schaumburg and shop. I know people that go into Chicago and shop all the time, so why go there and you could save here so I think it's fair. If they're gonna fix the roads I outcue: think it's fair," says Rockford Resident Trish Weyl.
A similar referendum failed last year. Rockford has fallen drastically behind on road projects because there were no funds for them all year. If this referendum fails, the city will have to rely on state and federal grants, along with the motor fuel tax and some potentially heavy budget cuts to fund road repairs.


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