ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A sales tax that has been in effect in the Forest City for over a decade will show up on voters’ ballots once again. Generated funds will go to improving Rockford roads.
City leaders say it’s a project that need to be paid for, with or without the referendum.
“We’re going to do road infrastructure one way or another, right? I mean, we’re just not going to say, ‘oh no we’re not gonna’ do that,’ this isn’t a special program, this is something we have to have. It’s roads that we can drive on,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara.
A 1% infrastructure sales tax has been inplace in the City of Rockford since 2007. In that time, $174 million has been raised and invested into city projects.
On February 23rd, Rockfordians will once again have the chance to vote on the referendum. Mayor McNamara says there are only two options to fund the repairs for the city’s infrastructure.
“One is to rely on property taxes, which was our old way, and that is solely paid for by Rockfordians. And that increases our already high property tax burden,” Mayor McNamara explained. “Or, you could do a sales tax approach and that is 30% paid for by outsiders and that is a consistent stream of money.”
Republican Mark Stefanic is running for Alderman in the 14th Ward against Democrat Mark Bonne. He too is strongly in favor of the 1% infrastructure sales tax and says it has been an economic boom for Rockford.
“We’ve eliminated, you know, millions of dollars in interest payments as a result of doing that. We’ve paid off some of the old bonds that we had floated to pay for our road improvements,” Stefanic explained.
Mayor McNamra tells us that voting ‘yes’ on the referendum is a win-win for the community.
“If you live in neighborhoods, well we’ve invested an additional million dollars each year I’ve been mayor into neighborhood infrastructure. If you’re a business owner and need to move product across our community, when I took office we had 15 bridges that had road restrictions or were closed. This existing capital improvement plan addresses all of them,” the mayor added.