By Marianne Mueller


Rockton, Roscoe, and Machesney Park are all asking voters to approve a proposed road referendum on March 17, 2020. South Beloit is also attempting to get the same referendum on the ballot.

Voters will be asked, “Shall the Village of Rockton, Illinois for expenditure on roadway and sidewalk/path infrastructure, improvements impose a retailers and service occupation tax, (commonly referred to as “Sales Tax) of one percent, (1%) in accordance with the provisions of 8-1.3 and 8-11-1.4 of the Illinois Municipal Code until June 30, 2025.”

Village of Rockton Trustee Cory Magnus oversees the Streets and Walks committee. “I have been crunching numbers longer than a year and we noticed that the Motor Fuel Tax, (MFT) hasn’t been funding road construction through the state,” Magnus said.

The current average sales tax revenue that Rockton receives is an estimated $1,388,400 annually, based at a rate of 7.25% which incorporates areas outside of the downtown business district. The business district tax budget holds around $95,900. An approved downtown business district tax allows funding of improvements for parking lots, and façade grants. A tax on goods sold in this area is 8.25 percent.

Funds are generated through a Motor Fuel Tax. Rockton receives $208,415 annually; of which $190,000 is set aside to supply road salt.

The Village Streets and Walks Road fund is approximately $100,000 as stated in the general fund allocated for road repairs. “To fix pot holes, man holes, maintenance and small overlays it costs $100, 000,” Magnus said.

“Around four years ago construction was done on Prairie Street which cost around $325,000, Magnus said. To do two blocks of Bridge St. the cost ran approximately $315,000. Currently we have a two to five year working list for roads in need of work; there might be things that come up during the process.”

Projects of priority status within the Village include Franklin from Blackhawk west to Cottage, one block of Bridge St. and on one block of Ferry; South of River, East River St. from Blackhawk to the end of the road, Mechanic to Union, West River from Blackhawk to School St. and Washington St. from Warren to North St. Additionally there are an extra ten roads in hopes of future repairs.

Resurfacing on other roads consist of Salem, Union to Main St., Rockton Road from the State right of way to Glen Gary, Quail Trail from Rockton Road to Edenberry, all of Aldrin, Armstrong; (approximately one half mile) Bristlewood Ct. and Williamson Parkway.

“Engineer priority determines what projects are started first, “Magnus states.

“In 2017 the population in the Village was 7,473,” Magnus recalls. The New (TRF), Transportation Renewal Fund at that time was in the ball park of $85,000.” Revenues for this fund are derived from the recent $.19 per gallon tax increase on gasoline and diesel in the capital bill.

Per capita TRF distributed to local governments through December 2019 amounted to $5.83, which is 73% of the total MFT per capita. The higher that anticipated allocation will continue through August of 2020 due to the TRF having no expenditures before distributions until a statutory amendment occurs. Based on this trend, the yearend capita which includes eight distributions is stated at $11.45 for MFY 2020.

“We need to look at the road referendum as revenue,” Magnus said. “There is a five year sunset clause that alleviates any thinking that the referendum can collect the 1% without going back to the citizens. In June of 2025 the 8.25% sales tax would go away without putting something back on the books. At that time if residents want more roads fixed it can go back to a referendum.”

“This is not only being paid for by the citizens of Rockton. Anyone who travels the roads to come to Rockton is paying for rebuilding them. The Village has had a flat tax on property the last 11 years; there has been no raise on property tax that has been collected. If property taxes were raised to fund roads then the citizens would be paying for it.”

On March 5 Stephen Mack Middle School was home to the first of a series of meetings held on the referendum. Magnus and Village of Rockton Trustee Dave Winters were both present. The Village Engineer of Roscoe alerted the public that a one-year warranty must be given on all road projects. Each must follow IDOT specs. Quality assurance is required.

“A lot of sales tax comes from the Rockton Road Corridor,” Magnus said. It was stated that traffic counts and which roads are in the worst conditions create a need for projects to be done. A question was raised as to whether or not Rockton collects a garbage fee.

Winters answered that they do and gave numbers on the road budget. A resident said that many have commented on how others have said they feel the garbage fees would be used for roads. Needs for road repairs in various towns often stems from an increased population. “We are updating our ordinances which create a safer community,” Winters said.

It was noted that on many streets that garbage trucks are one of the worst culprits of causing worsening road conditions.

Both towns agree that by fixing roads creates a cleaner look with better edges. Other referendums that have passed and nothing has begun on those was brought up. It was explained it takes three months to collect the tax after the public votes in favor.

The positive relationship between Village President Dale Adams and the Mayors of Roscoe and South Beloit was lauded.

A question regarding the 1% and if Governor Pritzker assures that the money will be used for this purpose was asked. Magnus responded, “Legally this money can only be used for road projects, streets and walks; all of which are listed in the Village budget. All projects will be identified in advance. Everything is to be fully transparent.”


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