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Local News

Will County Board expected to consider gas tax, recreational marijuana this month

Will County Board members are expected to vote on a countywide gas tax and recreational marijuana issues throughout multiple meetings this month.
Will County Board members are expected to vote on a countywide gas tax and recreational marijuana issues throughout multiple meetings this month.

December is shaping up to be a busy month for the Will County Board.

The board is scheduled to take up two big issues this month: a potential countywide gas tax and whether to bar recreational marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas.

Last month, the County Board tabled a vote on banning recreational marijuana businesses.

Will County Board Speaker Denise Winfrey said last month that there will be a public hearing on allowing recreational marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas at the Dec. 19 full board meeting. The members are then expected to take a vote on the matter.

Majority Leader Mark Ferry, D-Plainfield, said he was comfortable with allowing recreational marijuana sales while regulating and taxing them.

“I don’t think it will be a problem,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Finance Committee will hold a public hearing and then vote on adopting a tax on recreational marijuana sales throughout the county. Democrats appear to favor taxing sales of the recreational product, even if the County Board doesn’t allow sales in unincorporated areas.

Zoning matters related to marijuana will have to go through the Land Use & Development Committee, which will hold its meeting on Dec. 10. The agenda for that meeting had not yet been published as of Monday afternoon.

Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, said last week that he expects the Republican caucus to vote to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana businesses.

He said his members appear split on whether to tax sales in municipalities which will allow them, such as Joliet and Romeoville.

Steve Balich, R-Homer Glen, said he plans to vote against taxing recreational sales.

“I don’t want any more taxes in general,” Balich said.

On Thursday, the Public Works & Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on a countywide gas tax before voting on whether to adopt it.

While Republicans came out against it, the Democratic caucus said it will push for a 4-cent-a-gallon gas tax. The Will County Department of Transportation estimates that would generate $12 million annually, nearly all of which would go to pay for county roadway and bridge projects.

If that vote passes in committee, the board will vote on the gas tax at its Dec. 19 meeting.

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