EUREKA — School districts throughout Woodford County would receive more money if voters approve the school facilities sales tax referendum on the March 20 ballot.
The tax would add a 1 percent sales tax on goods sold in Woodford County. Excluded from the sales tax would be vehicles, farm equipment and parts, boats and RVs, unprepared food, drugs and services. The Regional Office of Education would distribute the money to school districts based on their enrollments.
Money collected is restricted for spending, but can be used to retire building and maintenance-related existing debt, land acquisition or for pay-as-you-go expenses for building upkeep. It can also be saved and built up for bigger maintenance and building projects, security upgrades and modifications, energy efficiency and architectural planning. It cannot be used for salaries or directly for costs associated with education or transportation. Each school district would decide how the revenue is spent within its authority.
Proponents say it creates a revenue stream other than property taxes. Opponents say higher sales taxes make it more difficult for local businesses to compete.
A previous School Facilities Sales Tax referendum failed in 2013. The similar Public Safety Tax was implemented in Woodford County in 1998 was used to build and maintain the county jail. Since its beginning, that tax has generated $1.7 million to $1.9 million annually to pay public safety-related expenses.
Forty-nine counties in Illinois have approved the school facilities sales tax.