License Plate Fees Begin Illinois Parks' Bailout
Help is finally on the way for Illinois state parks.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is starting to chip away at a $750 million maintenance backlog, as money from a new $2 surcharge on license-plate renewals is starting to make its way out to the parks, the Peoria Journal Star reported.
Starting this year, motorists who renewed their license plates paid an extra $2 — part of the DNR Sustainability Bill passed by the Illinois General Assembly to provide a steady source of funding for parks and their upkeep that was independent of the ups and downs of general tax revenue.
State budget pressures halved DNR’s share of general tax revenue over the past decade or more, and maintenance at Illinois State Parks has been put off year after year.
The result was a backlog of work that kept edging higher, an aging fleet of vehicles and equipment, plus deteriorating buildings and other facilities.
DNR director Marc Miller said the $2 license plate fee is deposited in the Parks and Conservation Fund, one of several dedicated funds managed by the agency.
“Half of the money will go for operation and maintenance to ensure there is a healthy stay for our visitors,” he said. “And half will go towards capital improvements like shower houses, roads and roofs.”
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