Roscoe proposes 1% sales tax increase to repair residential roads

ROSCOE, Ill. (WIFR) -- The village of Roscoe is asking voters to approve a 1-percent sales tax increase to pay for infrastructure improvements in residential neighborhoods.

Roscoe village leaders say more than 40 miles of neighborhood streets are in need of repairs. The total cost will be about $15 million. After doing an in-depth study, the village figured it will need about $5 to $7 million now to address the roads considered failing grade.

"It's important because the problem is mounting. Roscoe experienced exponential growth in the 1990's and a tremendous amount of roadway infrastructure was built at that time. Now it's all coming to an end of pavement life at the same time and it really can't be ignored much longer," said Scott Sanders, village administrator.

This idea has been on the ballot four times, but Sanders says it was without much effort to inform the public why it is so important.

"With almost no backing or support it just almost narrowly was defeated last time around. We hope now, with a better effort to inform the public of the need and with that need becoming increasingly direr every year, we will be successful at the polls this time," Sanders said.

The village has looked at other ways to help pay for road improvements, like eliminating residential garbage subsidies. That saved about $500,000 each year to put toward roads, but Sanders says that's not nearly enough money, helping only a small portion of the roads and take about 10 years to complete.
Sanders says passing the one percent sales tax can shorten that time down to four or five years.

"People hear tax and that is an all-encompassing concept. This is not a property tax, this is not an income tax, it's a sales tax that doesn't apply to groceries, medicine or titled vehicles. So really what it does is help us benefit from sales tax generating from people outside the community," said Sanders.

The village of Roscoe receives only five percent of citizens total property tax bill. That money is being spent on public safety, parks, plowing, mowing and maintenance.

“Roscoe has taken the position of not raising its portion of property taxes for the last nine years. That doesn't mean the overall property taxes may or may not fluctuate, but people might not realize that the Village of Roscoe only receives five percent of its resident's property taxes. The vast majority goes to school districts. There are 11 taxing bodies on your property tax bill. Roscoe receives an average of $250 annually per residential property tax bill," said Sanders.

"A lot of times they get the potholes patched but the patch doesn't last for a long time so you still have the same pothole. I think it's a good idea. I don’t think one percent is really that high of a price to pay. The damage that our cars go through just to have the holes is probably more than we would generally pay for the increase,” said Lisa Becker, a Roscoe resident.

Sanders says Rockton, Machesney Park, Loves Park, and Rockford have already passed the one percent local sales tax. These funds will be spent exclusively on roads and infrastructure projects including storm and sanitary sewer, flooding and drainage issues.

A group of citizens formed a group called Better Roads of Roscoe to create a promotional campaign about the proposed sales tax. The group has not used any public funding for this; they raised all the money through donations.

Sanders believes these infrastructure improvements will create better roads, better drainage, increased property values, and a more attractive business environment.

The vote for this referendum will take place on March 20.