While the situation in Marion County is not quite as dire as in Alexander County, Highway Engineer Michael McCormick confirms his department has no road salt in reserves at this time.
McCormick says Motor Fuel Tax money always funds half of Marion County’s road salt supply, but that money is not available at this time as the budget impasse continues unabated.
Marion County, he says will have to find another local funding source to pay for this winter’s road salt, and will have to hope for a mild winter. McCormick says the state owes Marion County approximately $200,000 in unpaid motor fuel tax payments.
The State of Illinois has the Motor Fuel Tax money owed to counties, municipalities and townships – it’s collected every time you fill up at the pump – but because of the impasse the Comptroller’s Office lacks the authority to distribute the money.
For counties such as Alexander, the prospect is much worse. Their County Engineer Jeff Denny says his department has very little salt in reserves and will not be able to purchase additional road salt until the MFT funds are released.
Denny calls the situation very frustrating, noting the money he needs to prepare for the winter is sitting in a bank account, but because of political games in Springfield he has already had to cut back on his summer and fall maintenance and repair programs.
He says his situation is similar to others in the deep southern region of the state and that he will instead be forced to use cinders this winter to maintain winter road safety.
Other counties in our listening area managed to purchase road salt earlier in the year and maintained some reserves from last season.
In Clinton County, Engineer Dan Behrens says his department will be OK this winter, but that situation could change by summer if MFT funds aren’t released soon.
Jefferson, Fayette and Washington counties report similar situations, and predict they’ll have enough funds and salt to carry them through an average winter in this region.