Businesses and drivers worried about fuel-tax increase proposal

By Beau Ebenezer

October 3, 2013 Updated Oct 4, 2013 at 11:07 AM CDT

GALESBURG, Ill. -- Many gas station owners are worried their customers will soon be hitting the road in search of cheaper prices.

"If it got to be excessive where you have a 20 cent difference between gas in Galesburg, the Quad Cities, and Peoria, I would then coordinate a trip to fill up over there," said Galesburg resident Charles Armstrong.

The city of Galesburg has proposed doubling the motor-fuel tax from 4 cents to 8 cents in order to raise $600,000 for road maintenance.

Officials with the Galesburg Area Chamber of Commerce said that after sending out a survey to about 360 businesses, 70 percent opposed the idea.

"One business that contacted us said that they would have to either increase the price of gas by four cents or they would have to eat it into their profits," said Chamber Director Steven Brody. "It's something that they really don't want to have to do."

Businesses may not be the only ones affected by the proposed increase.

Chamber officials said prospective buyers of closed down gas stations like the Mobil Mart on East Main Street may think twice when it comes to opening up a new gas station.

"We want businesses to come here. We want businesses to open up and have more gas stations," Brody said. "If this is going to create the possibility of a gas station not opening, that is a problem."

Peoria resident Shay Clark is a driver who may also be affected by the tax.

She is a nurse with Illinois Cancer Care and has made the drive to Galesburg twice a week over the past year for her job.

She said if the low prices go, then so will she.

"It seems like if that is going to go through, then I might as well go back to filling up in Peoria," Clark said. "I look forward to the cheaper gas when I drive to Galesburg, so I kind of hope it does not happen. I guess I will have to way out the difference and see what I will have to do."

City council members could not be reached for comment on the matter.

There is still no word on when the council will vote on the proposal.

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