Henry County Schools Ask For One Cent Sales Tax - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Henry County Schools Ask For One Cent Sales Tax

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School districts all over our area are facing major budget crunches this year. Many have had to cut teachers and dip into their reserves to cover deficits topping more than a million dollars in some cases. 

But some relief may be on the way and it all depends on voters. For the first time ever, Henry County is putting a one-cent sales tax on the ballot to help pay for school needs. 

This one cent sales tax could generate three million dollars for schools in Henry County. That would be distributed to nine districts in the county based on student enrollment.  

The Cambridge school district would get an estimated $160,000 a year and Geneseo could see $900,000 a year, all to go towards school needs.

"We re-patch it [the parking lot] every fall and every spring, but it's just one of those things a small amount of that money could make a big difference," Cambridge Superintendent Tom Akers say. 

A parking lot full of potholes, a leaky roof, and a boiler that's decades old are all things that could use some fixing at Cambridge schools. These buildings are decades old, some built in the 1950s. 

"They're a little antiquated and so what we're looking at is the opportunity to upgrade those," Akers says. 

In Geneseo, better facilities and more room for special programs are top priorities. The high school auditorium seats about 450, barely half the students there. 

"We have some fine arts, auditorium needs, athletic fields need to be upgraded and maintained," Geneseo Superintendent Scott Kuffel says. 

Superintendents say the one cent sales tax would keep them from dipping into reserves to pay. They say it's not just for comfort, but necessities like safer schools. 

"What we're looking at is changing the entryways to our elementary, potentially putting in cameras, putting in buzzers," Akers says.

And also accessible facilities for the disabled and elderly.  

"They're not all just wishes and wants," Kuffel says, "Many on the list would be required." 

School leaders say there are benefits for citizens too. 

"Obviously it helps relieve stress on property owners because it would give us a chance to utilize sales tax rather than property tax," Kuffel says. 

And visitors spending as they travel through; some of that would go to the schools. 

"Whether it's gas or restaurants, people traveling from outside of the state or outside of the county are going to help contribute to the success of our schools," Kuffel says. 

"I have no doubt that on April 9th , voters will come out and support this as a better way for kids," Akers adds.