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Oswego Trustees Voice Little Support for 4 Cent Gas Tax

Jun 18, 2015 08:04AM ● By Steven Jack

Previously discussed plans for a new 4 cents per gallon gas tax in the village of Oswego appear to be going nowhere.

Trustees Tuesday night again discussed options for funding about $2 million in annual street repairs in the village, which in the past have included the gas tax and a .50 percent sales tax increase. While trustees continued to voice support for a sales tax hike, concerns for the gas tax were expressed over driving residents out of town for cheaper gas.

“I certainly don’t want to be taking business away from our local gas stations,” said Trustee Joe West. 

The proposed gas tax would have brought in about $750,000 annually to the village and the .50 percent sales tax an additional $1.9 million. Mark Horton, the village’s finance director, told trustees annual road repairs could be completed with just the sales tax increase; however, the gas tax would allow the village to begin saving for large-scale capital projects like a proposed new $20 million police station. 

“I’m fairly comfortable the half percent will get us what we need to complete the road program for the next four to five years,” Horton said.

In lieu of the gas tax, trustees also discussed the possibility of raising the sales tax by .75 percent instead of .50 percent. That would bring the village’s sales tax to a total of 1.25 percent, which is higher than many surrounding communities. The village’s current sales tax is .50 percent — the lowest of all surrounding communities. A .75 percent increase would bring the village an additional $2.6 million annually.

Trustee Karin McCarthy-Lange questioned Economic Development Director Vijay Gadde over whether a total 1.25 percent sales tax might hinder future business development. Gadde said only large-scale operations like Costco factor in local sales tax percentages when considering where to locate. 

Trustees did not reach a consensus Tuesday night over a .50 or .75 percent increase, but the issue is likely to come up for a vote Tuesday, July 7, said Village President Gail Johnson.