EUREKA - A push to add a new revenue stream for local school districts throughout the county was approved by voters in the March 20 primary election by a significant margin with 4,523 yes votes to 3,389 no votes.
The measure will assess a one percent sales tax on goods sold in the county. Excluded from the sales tax will be vehicles, farm equipment and parts, boats and RVs, unprepared food, drugs and services. Businesses will pay the tax collected to the Illinois Department of Revenue, which will keep two percent of the total for administrative purposes and disburse the rest to the Regional Office of Education (ROE). The ROE will distribute the money to school districts based on enrollment figures. While the revenue will pass through the state, it is not subject to the General Assembly budget process or to cuts made annually by that body.
“I am extremely thankful that our community has supported our schools in this way,” said Eureka District 140 Superintendent Bob Bardwell. “This new revenue stream will go a long way towards helping us maintain and upgrade our buildings over time. We do not take it for granted that property owners carry the burden of financially supporting our schools. We want to be good stewards of the resources that our taxpayers give to us while providing an excellent education to our students in facilities that meet their needs. I am thankful to the community for helping us to do so.”
The new tax gives school districts another major source of income besides real estate taxes as well as federal and state education money. However, there are restrictions on how the money can be used. 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 will decide how the revenue is spent within its authority.
See article on April 5 Woodford County Journal newsstands