The Herscher Village Board offered two informational meetings for residents last week regarding the 1% sales tax referendum which will be on the April 6 ballot. The funds are to be used exclusively for road maintenance, specifically a 24-year plan to resurface all of the village streets and roads.

The meetings began with a summary of road maintenance for the last 20 years, which has not kept up with the deterioration.  Maps were made available showing the streets that had been tar and chipped, and asphalted. Some have received no maintenance at all.

The board related that each year, Herscher receives motor fuel taxes that are to be used for roads, sidewalks, and curbs. The amount received this year, $54,000, is based on population, not on the number of existing roads. 

The amount received is less than a normal year of $57,000, which is still much less than is needed. In addition, Herscher receives $102 in property tax for a $3000 tax bill, the lowest in the area.

The cost of asphalting 4 blocks is $165,000, not including the curbs and ADA improvements required when a street is resurfaced.

The village board has requested several grants for assistance, which have been denied.

Herscher’s upcoming mayor, Shannon Sweeney stated, “I don’t want to tar and chip Main Street. If the referendum doesn’t pass, we will have a minimum of repairs, only tar and chip, and filling potholes. There will not be a sustainable program with dedicated funding.” 

In addition, using existing village funds for streets will require other services to be lessened, like police and parks. 

Therefore, in order to keep the services and streets that the village is accustomed to, the sales tax must pass.

During the meetings, a few representatives from local businesses were concerned about the impact that the 1% increase would have on their businesses, given the fact that customers travel to Herscher to take advantage of its low sales tax.

In addition, a handful of other residents wanted clarification of what exactly was taxed with the 1%. 

One of the attendees, who has experience with road maintenance, suggested that the board was conservative with their road maintenance goals, mentioning that this village is fortunate to have nice streets. He shared that tar and chip cannot be used exclusively because there is no structural integrity.

At both meetings, it was agreed that Herscher’s streets, curbs, and sidewalks are a source of local pride.

In order to keep that same quality, the 1% sales referendum must pass.