The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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November 20, 2012

Whiteside County may put sales tax issue for schools on ballot

FULTON, Ill. — Whiteside County residents could see a new sales tax referendum on the election ballots this spring.

The consideration of a one cent sales tax to benefit the district was introduced at the River Bend Board of Education meeting on Monday.

“This would certainly help us down the road,” Board Vice President Jane Orman-Luker said.

This Illinois County School Facility Tax was introduced to the board by Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., a national brokerage firm with a focus on Illinois K-12 finance, in early November. The nontraditional approach for Illinois public schools allows county voters to approve a sales tax to fund school facility costs at a one percent maximum in one-fourth percent increments. This law is similar to one that is currently in place in every county in Iowa.

Sales tax revenues can only be used for certain items. This includes new facilities, additions and renovations, land acquisition, ongoing maintenance, architectural planning, durable equipment, fire prevention and life safety, disabled access and security, energy efficency, parking lots, demolition and roof repairs. Revenue cannot be used for direct instructional costs, text books, buses, detached furniture and fixtures, computers, moveable equipment, operating costs or salaries and overhead.

These taxes can be used multiple ways. The district could use sales taxes to pay as they go on capital projects by saving up revenue over time. They can issue new bonds for current capital needs or retire existing debt issued for capital purposes. This revenue can also help the district abate or decrease existing property taxes and avoid levying property taxes.

“We are very judicious with our budget, but this would definitely help with the building and grounds, thus allowing for more educational opportunities,” Superintendent Chuck Holliday said.

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