There was a time when aggrieved Chicagoans knew they could avoid the nation’s highest gas prices with a quick drive up I-94.
Average pump prices are still lower on the north shore, but now the bargains require a little hunting (check out our handy Commuter tab for cheapest gas by zipcode and local traffic alerts) and even Glenview residents are paying more at the pump.
With sales tax revenues in the recessionary dumper, municipalities have been passing new gas taxes and increasing existing ones to help make up the difference (see what locals have to say, watch the video to the right).
"I don't think it helps us sell gas," said Warren Fellingham, owner of a Shell station on Chicago Ave. in Evanston, which, as part of a large budget balancing effort, last year bumped its city gas tax from 3 cents to 4 cents per gallon.
Chicago's gasoline tax is 5 cents per gallon.
"I think they just fill up less here and when they're out in the sticks they get more," Fellingham said.
Evanston's residents pay the highest local gas tax on the north shore, along with those further west in Des Plaines and Park Ridge. (See gas tax map and revenue chart to the right.)
Glenview, which historically never had a gas tax, began charging two cents per gallon in 2010 to help offset sagging Village revenues.
"It seemed like the most fair way because a lot of it would be paid by out-of-towners," said Darrell Barber, a financial consultant and acting finance director for Glenview.
As she filled her vehicle, Glenview resident Sue Cole said she had no idea the tax had even been imposed and that gas prices would have to go a lot higher before she'd begin buying it elsewhere.
"I probably wouldn't unless the gas goes up to $7 a gallon or something," Cole said. "Then it might start making a difference."
The Village of Skokie went from having no local gas tax to passing a 3 cents per gallon tax that went into effect in 2009, and was originally scheduled to expire in May of this year. Recently however, Skokie lawmakers unanimously decided to extend the tax another three years. It brought in $1 million in 2010 that was dedicated to paving local streets.
That leaves the shopping-endowed town of Niles as the only Chicago border town with no local gasoline tax.
Despite the rain showers on a recent afternoon there, the pumps were rocking at the Shell on Touhy.
"I live in Chicago but I work nearby," Manuel Carchi said. "I always fill up here because it's cheaper."