* 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?