In less than a month you’ll have a choice: do you want to increase taxes to help smooth over some of the bumpy road issues in Peoria County?
The Nov 6th ballot includes a ‘referendum’ with a cost. The only question is, will you put your vote on the road?
Supporters of that referendum say while fixing Peoria County roads is a priority, they need a little financial help, from you, and while most folks would probably say they don’t enjoy bumpy car rides, the majority of folks 25 News spoke to, say the referendum is less about convenience and more about safety.
“You run into a big ol pot hole you’re gonna tear your car up.” Rhonda Wolf exclaimed. The former Bartonville Mayor does not support the ballot item, despite her critique of the roadways because she says Illioisans are taxed to death.
It’s no secret some roadways in PC are rough; in fact some residents called them outright horrific.
But officials have acknowledged this and say they’re working on changing it.
On a rainy Wednesday, Peoria County Highway Engineer Amy McLaren stood right in the middle of one of the county’s problem areas – the intersection of Maxwell and Fauber.
“The road behind me is gonna be about 5 million dollars to reconstruct and that’s new pavement, new storm sewer and some sort of pedestrian accommodations.” she explained.
Officials are hoping the referendum will address it. In short, it’s an option for local residents to pay 50 cents sales tax for every $100 spent in retail.
McLaren says the “Half a cent sales tax increase for 12 years would generate approximately 70 million dollars.”
Supporters say that money along with the 20% property tax and 19% gas tax that;s paid at the pump, wouldn’t just make rides smoother, but reduce roadway risks.
One Peoria County resident, John Sharp, says Maxwell Road is one of the worst in the area, and recalls frequent attempts to patch it up. “It’s almost like every other month they’re putting the black patch on to try and seal it up, but the concrete really is deteriorating.” he shared.
The asphalt Sharp refers to is what McLaren describes as a band-aid for decades-old roads that are crumbling because of years of use. She adds the heavy duty truck traffic, seasonal road salt and wear and tear have run it’s course.
She also says she gets frequent comments from residents questioning why the roads aren’t fixed with expediency; reassuring that she’s well aware the bumps and pot holes not only present a nuisance, but safety concerns too.
Unfortunately she explains, “These are expensive projects and we’d like to keep them as long as possible. We’d like to have decades and decades of service life on these roads. But when our resources are not enough to cover that, we have to do them very slowly. That’s why these projects don’t get done as quickly as our residents would like and frankly, as quickly as I’d like too.”
As an engineer, McLaren shared that if the public chooses to vote for the half percent tax increase, that construction would begin almost immediately after the revenue is collected, but she’s not pushing for anyone to vote for either option, rather equipping them with the information they need to make an informed decision.
For the remainder of October, there will be two public meetings held to address the referendum in more detail, along with any questions folks may have.
For a list of those meeting times and locations, please visit Peoria County’s website.