North Riverside moves to impose gasoline tax

Officials say Costco sales will result in $250K annual windfall

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

If you fill up your gas tank in North Riverside a few weeks from now, it will cost you 3 cents a gallon more than it does now. 

The North Riverside Village Board is poised to take advantage of a new state law passed and signed into law earlier this year that allows non-home rule communities to enact a municipal motor fuel tax of up to 3 cents a gallon without having to get approval from voters in a referendum.

The main attraction of a gas tax for North Riverside is the presence of the Costco at 2500 Harlem Ave. Village Administrator Guy Belmonte estimated that Costco sells about 9 million gallons of gas there annually, which would mean about $270,000 in new revenue for the village, which has faced financial challenges in recent years.

Mayor Hubert Hermanek Jr. said at a village board committee meeting on Sept. 9 that the new law was passed by the state legislature with North Riverside in mind.

"Our lobbyist worked hard for it with the Illinois Municipal League, and they knew that basically North Riverside was targeted, or we wanted it, because we're the non-home rule [community] with the Costco," said Hermanek.

Hermanek said that a particularly attractive feature of the municipal gas tax is that it would be mostly paid by people who don't live in North Riverside.  

"Probably 90 percent, or more, of the people who buy Costco gas don't live in the village," Hermanek said. "We can get $250,000 in taxes from people who don't live here."

Because gas at Costco is 25 to 30 cents cheaper than at other gas stations, an additional 3 cents a gallon added to the cost as a result of the tax would not result in many customers choosing to go elsewhere to buy gas, Village Manager Guy Belmonte told the board.

The revenue from the municipal gas tax will go into the village's general fund and can be used for any purpose.

"You don't get that many chances to find a new revenue source and it's a good revenue source," Belmonte said. 

In addition to Costco, there are two other gas stations in North Riverside, a Citgo at 8545 Cermak Road and a BP/Amoco at 2558 Desplaines Ave.

Ajay Lakhan, the owner of the Citgo gas station on Cermak Road, said that a new tax would just make it tougher for him to sell gas. He said it is already hard to compete with gas stations a few miles west in DuPage County, where taxes are already lower.

"Who's going to stop here," Lakhan said when asked about the likely effects of a new tax. "They can go three miles further to DuPage."

An informal poll of village board members attending the Sept. 9 committee meeting showed unanimous support for the municipal gas tax.

"It's a no-brainer," said board member H. Bob Demopoulous.

The revenue from the gas tax could go a long way towards reducing the village's projected $313,000 budget deficit for the 2019-20 fiscal year. 

The new gas tax is expected to be formally approved at the village board's meeting on Sept. 16 and go into effect shortly thereafter.

This story has been changed to correct a statement about how much gasoline Costco sells annually. The figure is reportedly 9 milllion gallons. The Landmark regrets the error.

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Reader Comments

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Ed Sel  

Posted: September 12th, 2019 4:02 PM

It's interesting to see how the NR village trustees and unelected staff view Costco in that it's a business to exploit. You think Costco management sees this as a good thing? I doubt it. What sort of tax schemes are next? This effort also shows how little concern or respect NR has for the other two smaller gasoline stations in town, both of which have been around for many decades. The gentleman on Cermak has it exactly right: Dupage county is just a short ride away for everything, not just gas. It wouldn't take much social media to turn 9 million into 8 million gallons or even less. Share this Landmark article on facebook and twitter and whatever else you social media people use. It only takes a few minutes. Hermanek should be ashamed of himself for saying it's out of towners that'll be paying for this, just like his red-light camera scam. Maybe not as much as you think, bud.

Bob Uphues Riverside Brookfield Landmark Employee

Posted: September 12th, 2019 2:36 PM

Readers, regarding how much gasoline Costco sells, we made an error, which has now been corrected in the story. The village's tax revenue estimate was based on Costco selling 9 million gallons of gas annually. The estimate was not based on $9 million in sales. Sorry for causing the confusion.

H Richard Collins from Riverside  

Posted: September 12th, 2019 12:44 PM

Based on what John Chauvet wrote I did a little math. Using an average gas price of 2.5/gallon I divided $9,000,000 by $2.50. This comes out to 3.6 million gallons sold at Costco. At 3 cents a gallon that come out $108,000 in additional revenue to NR. Only 40% of what the NR Mayor estimates.

John Chauvet from North Riverside  

Posted: September 12th, 2019 11:09 AM

The article states a .03%uFFFD per gallon tax, but the figures on expected revenue are 3% of total sales, not 3 cents... I smell a rat...

Wm Bee  

Posted: September 12th, 2019 8:15 AM

Another set of Illinois politicians with their hands in my pockets. GFY North Riverside.

Kevin Gleeson from Lyons  

Posted: September 11th, 2019 10:38 PM

Dumbopolous gives a nuanced endorsement to the phrase "it's a no-brainer". As if there's no legitimate case that can be stated against a tax increase.

Tom Gurkowski  

Posted: September 11th, 2019 6:20 PM

I won't spend a penny in a town that allready stold a hundred dollars from me because I forgot to come to a complete stop making a right turn on red. Maybe Im wrong and its Berwyn those traffic light cameras are in. Another town I wont spend a pennie in. Everyone is hurting for money because everyone wants more money.

Ed Sel  

Posted: September 11th, 2019 5:56 PM

What a bunch of shameless tax-and-spend parasites. Guess you have to do this when your cash-cow mall has lost 2 of the 3 main retailers and is full of gang-bangers moping around inside and out. North Riverside also charges a food and beverage tax on top of the 10% sales tax rate even for carry-out food. Now an added gas tax. I feel bad for folks that have to shop in that town. I don't and haven't for years. Too easy to fill-up in Dupage and get shopping done there in a much better atmosphere. Good luck with your cash-grab.

Rick Short  

Posted: September 11th, 2019 10:53 AM

I will stop using North Riverside costco and will drive the extra miles to DuPage. Will absolutely not give extra money to a town I don't live in. I hope everyone else in my situation follows me to a different gas pump.

Jeff Dale  

Posted: September 10th, 2019 3:12 PM

Literally everyone I know in North Riverside gets gas at this Costco. Fix the nepotism and pointless lawsuits.

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