Illinois Retailers Cry Foul

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Illinois Retailers Cry Foul

DES PLAINES, Ill. -- Despite pleadings from local gas station owners, a four to three majority of Des Plaines aldermen voted tentatively Monday to double the city's gas tax from one to two cents per gallon. A final vote is expected at the Aug. 18 city council meeting. If it is approved, it will take effect Oct. 1.

The money will be earmarked for the city's $1.8 million plan to resolve backyard flooding that was approved two weeks ago. The backyard flooding project is part of a larger proposal to address individual flooding problems throughout the city, The Daily Herald.

The increase is expected to bring in another $500,000 a year. But gas station officials said it would have a lot of impact on them. Gas station owners say it could force consumers to drive to other towns who don't have as high a tax.

Wayne Busse, who owns Busse Marathon, said he's already operating on a slim profit margin at the pumps and in the convenience store. "I won't be able to go up that penny," he said. "A penny means an awful lot."

Jerry Siwek, owner of Peacock Mobil, said the increase will mean less customers for him. That could force him to cut out payment of health insurance for his employees and stop funding scholarships for high school students. "Customers are very price sensitive," he said. "They will go somewhere else for a penny."

Several officials also objected to the increase, complaining about the impact on businesses and pointing to other serious needs in the city. Alderman Carla Brookman said the tax would hurt local businesses, something that will, in the long run, hurt the city's finances even further. "I think we're just moving in the wrong direction," she said.