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Room for improvement?

Tuesday, Jan 29, 2008

* Another local sales tax increase may face legislators upon their return to Springfield…

Metro East officials may look to a temporary sales tax to fund costly repairs to the levee systems that protect the flood plain along the Mississippi River.

State Sen. William Haine, D-Alton, said Monday he would introduce a bill next week that would let Illinois counties impose up to a quarter-cent sales tax to pay for emergency levee repairs and storm water control measures.

If it becomes law, the legislation would provide a possible funding mechanism for a massive levee modernization project in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties. The price tag could be as much as $180 million.

Some of the levees are more than 60 years old. They’re high enough to withstand a major flood, but officials say there is a need to replace old pumps, pipes, gates and electrical panels and build new relief wells to prevent potential problems from underseepage.

Haine said the legislation would let counties establish commissions that could issue bonds for flood and storm water control and, subject to consent of their county boards, levy a sales tax of up to a quarter cent.

“This is as important as roads and bridges,” Haine said.

It doesn’t sound unreasonable, but I wonder how the governor might “improve” this tax hike. It’s not like he can let seniors ride free on levees. Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:23 am:

    Three words…Free sand bags

  2. - The Doc - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:30 am:

    Watch out for the slippery slope! Now that the GA successfully pushed through the Chicago-area sales tax hike to save mass transit, other counties will follow suit, using a small sales tax increase to address needs that should be considered capital expenditures funded via a…wait for it…capital budget!

  3. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:31 am:

    Will the Mushrooms have the guts to put a veto proof vote on it? I don’t think they can/will. This session is headed for more of the same. Huge issues to deal and a real lack of leadership to take on the task. Would the levee issue be addressed by a Capitol Bill?

  4. - IncrediblyDumberThanYouThink - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:34 am:

    Usually we “improve” this stuff with a veto. Then the Devil Madigan forces the entire House and Senate to override. But everyone gets 2 tax hike votes — so they will be in double trouble.

    We even improved, via veto, the Rockford sales hike after they held a referendum. All they wanted to speed up collection. But improve we did.

    Just wait until JayMagoo and H’wood Hendon defeat all the Devil Madigan allies next week. What a great day election will be.
    PS Tony sez the cribs at MCC are sweet.

  5. - Anon - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    Come on Rich, this one’s so obvious it’s like you’re not even trying:


  6. - grand old partisan - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:42 am:

    The most amusing part of the story is the last quote by Haine. To say that something is “as important as roads and bridges” - which are also not getting funds for needed improvements - isn’t saying much.

    To answer you question, seniors in the Metro East area have already gotten their freebee. Remember, the the Guv’s last “improvement” was state-wide. Since the only people (in the Guv’s view, at least) who need an off-set for a tax increase have already gotten it, why not make the sales tax increase statewide and fund a capital infrastructure program?

  7. - Rob_N - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:46 am:

    “It’s not like he can let seniors ride free on levees. Thoughts?”

    Hello?! Fishing! Seniors fish for free. Maybe even get free worms.

    And I like Anon’s suggestion of free waterslide rides for seniors. Boomer retirees are said to be more active, now aren’t they?

  8. - In the know - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:48 am:

    Free Kayak rides for seniors!

  9. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:49 am:

    Perhaps by putting SWIDA in charge of the whole thing rather than three counties operating independently.

  10. - reflector - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:53 am:

    The newspapers in the metro recently had articles about all the development that is possible on the eastside if the levees were improved.This is a must do tax.I remember getting out of high school in the 1940’s to sand bag levees and they are not much better now.This tax would mean a local area is taking care of it’s own problems.If good flood control can be achieved the growth potential for the east side would be out of sight.This area is closer to downtown St.Ouis than Kingshiway is.Sen.Haines is on the mark.

  11. - Levois - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 10:56 am:

    How can a governor improve legislation on stronger levees? It seems Blagojevich needs to come up with another trick that or just veto the thing and be done with it. Instead of playing silly games.

  12. - Commonsense in Illinois - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 11:04 am:

    Rob: Seniors already have free fishing licenses in Illinois…been that way for decades.

  13. - Hubris - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 11:23 am:

    AV it to declare “Don McLean Week” in Illinois. Everybody drives their Chevy to the levee — then the levee gets dry! (And, no need to “levee” new taxes!)

  14. - Anon from BB - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    Free Asian carp for all!

  15. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 11:37 am:

    Helooooo reflector, have you read the news?

    New Orleans had a lot of development being protected by levees. Did’nt that work out well?

    The flood control system needs to be maintained and improved, but placing costly development and god forbid people in the flood way is insane. No insurance company should write a policy for that type of development

    Even the Dutch are beginning to work on a plan which will allow the waters to flow behind their levees…..

  16. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    Actually, there’s a whole lot more to this story.

    The levees (at least in Madison County) all got “Decertified” by the Feds, which means in terms of development, occupancy, etc., any properties which are in the flood plain (because remember now, according to the Feds, those levees no longer function, so any industrial or commercial properties (read: Jobs) protected by the levees are not considered to be “Unprotected”.

    In a nice way of saying it, all of these affected properties (and we are talking a whole lot of property) would now be in the flood plain/flood way, in worst case, they could have to shut down or relocate. Revised property insurance costs alone will bankrupt most places.

    Similar issues exist for the residential properties. Imagine if your homeowner insurance costs just doubled, and now you’ve got to buy additional flood insurance.

    As to:
    “It doesn’t sound unreasonable, but I wonder how the governor might “improve” this tax hike. It’s not like he can let seniors ride free on levees. Thoughts?”

    How about: “Not forcing them out of their homes”.

  17. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 11:44 am:

    Above was supposed to read as:

    “The levees (at least in Madison County) all got “Decertified” by the Feds, which means in terms of development, occupancy, etc., any properties which are in the flood plain are now considered to be “Unprotected”.”

    Because remember now, according to the Feds, those levees no longer function, so any industrial or commercial properties (read: Jobs) protected by the levees are now considered to be in the flood plain/flood way.

  18. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 12:00 pm:

    Maybe this is a more reasonable way to fund projects in IL? Each region will collect its own taxes and then pay for its own projects. It actually seems a little fairer than having the whole state pay for something that only affects 3 or 4 counties.

  19. - reflector - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 12:20 pm:

    Evidently photocrat3 has not been to west St.Louis county.I helped but the backbone electrical service in and it has grown steadily.Levees can be managed.We don’t have New Orleans political problems here in metro East.Problems,yes ,but not as bad as N.O.

  20. - Rod on the River - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 12:52 pm:

    Rod will have them sculpt his name into all the levees, ten feet high. And hang signs on all the river tugs. Alternating with ads for Panda Express.

  21. - Truthful James - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 12:56 pm:

    Levees on old Miss should be the business of the Army Corpse of Engineers (extra e added on purpose. They have screwed with the Rive so many times with dams and dredging that their Massa Plan should rule. If not them, the State should do the work. Or they should permit the establishment of a Multi-County floosway authority and use a property tax. It would be like Metro Water Reclamation up here.

    We are talking about some of the poorest ares of the State. I can recall in the not too distant past when East St. Louis lost one of its high school libraries to levee breach.

    But Capital Planning in Illinois is so screwed up and it would require a tax increase.

  22. - So. Il citizen - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 2:10 pm:

    The current proposal of a sales tax is a good one. Every one pays, rich, poor and in-between. Since we don’t have a lot of big business down state our property taxes are too high.

    By now we all know that Rod is like my dog and has to put his scent on everything so that he can claim dominance. Personally, I think he should give innertubes to the poor and seniors. If you can’t save your home at least you can float away…

  23. - free - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 2:36 pm:

    Free housing for Seniors in the floodplain….

  24. - BIG R.PH. - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 3:29 pm:

    I think everyone is missing this important point:

    Haine said the legislation would let counties establish commissions that could issue bonds for flood and storm water control and, subject to consent of their county boards, levy a sales tax of up to a quarter cent.

    More commissions+More Boards=More Taxing Authority which means (drumroll please) More taxes and more control for the Dems. The 3 H’s Hoffman, Holbrook & Haine will then pack these boards with Lackeys that will footsoldier for these 3 to keep them elected.

    Tax & Spend!! That’s the Liberal Way!

    How about this revelation. Do the Maintenance that was supposed to be done for the last 60 years! Wake up & actually put in a full days work so the taxpayers get our moneys worth.

  25. - Millstadt News Guy - Tuesday, Jan 29, 08 @ 4:27 pm:

    Just like gambling, the slippery slope is now open. Sure we need new (or at least repaired) levees…. but we certainly do NOT need more freakin’ Commissions. The land on the river side of the levee is polluted from decades of industrial abuse, and also holds East St. Louis. Here’s an idea: have the Metro East Sanitary District (the commission ALREADY THERE TO TAKE CARE OF LEVEES) start doing their jobs instead of rolling around in $50,000 trucks looking at pumps and saying, ‘Yup. It’s broke.’

  26. - Dick Pol - Wednesday, Jan 30, 08 @ 1:32 am:

    Maybe Chicago legislators should vote “No” on this downstate problem unless Haine’s bill is linked to a capital bill.

  27. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 31, 08 @ 1:58 pm:

    Why waste taxes trying to prevent inevitable flooding? Aren’t there more important problems?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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