Machesney Park residents will begin seeing higher taxes on their electricity and natural gas bills in the near future due to a tax increase that village trustees voted on last week. The 5% utility tax is reportedly intended to raise revenue to construct and improve roadways as well as to boost policing.

More than 100 residents have voiced concerns over the measure, mostly citing the recovering economy and lack of financial stability than many citizens still face. Tom Strickland, Village President, seems to be on the side of the residents, “There isn’t anybody who’s for this tax and I have had so many people tell me if they pass this tax, they won’t vote for the road referendum the next time around.” Voters clearly want better roads; but not at the expense of increased taxes in weak economic times.

There is a rebate program that allows low-income customers to bypass the increase. Residents can call the utility to inquire about their eligibilities.

Strickland advises residents to become more active in contacting their leaders and representatives about issues that concern them, specifically via a public comment form prior to voting for leaders.

Residents have no say in utility tax increases when there is no referendum, and won’t be able to avoid the tax unless they qualify for the low-income rebate. Residential and small business customers can, however, shop around for the supply side of their electricity and natural gas usage by selecting a retail energy provider that offers rates below that of their utility.