School Sales Tax On the Ballot in IL, Producing Benefits in Clin - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

School Sales Tax On the Ballot in IL, Producing Benefits in Clinton, IA

Updated: April 9, 2013 10:26 PM CDT
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Among the issues on the ballot Tuesday was a referendum for a one cent sales tax in three Illinois Counties. Meanwhile, that sales tax is helping Clinton build a new middle school.

In each of the three counties in Illinois where the one cent sales tax was on the ballot, a simple majority was all that was needed for the measure to pass.

Henry County - where the tax could generate $3 million a year - easily approved it, with 55% of votes in favor of the move.

At the time of this posting, no poll results had come in from Mercer County. The referendum there would help fund facility upgrades in the county's three school districts.

Whiteside County voters defeated the referendum, which would have been used to lower property taxes in the nine districts that would have split the money. The vote was 54% against the measure, 46% for it.

Across the river in Iowa, school sales taxes have been in place for years.

Now, the one cent sales tax has added up big things for the Clinton School District.

"It is a project that has just gotten underway and we're ready to start having a lot of earth moving," Deb Olson, Clinton Schools Superintendent, said.

Step one was moving a little earth, in a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Clinton Middle School Tuesday.

With the new building, the district will consolidate its two outdated middle schools into a single joint campus, built with the future in mind.

"Today, with advent of having inquiry based learning, and looking with using technology as a resource, this will just make our kids be even that much more prepared for the next century," Olson explained.

The price tag: $20.9 million dollars. That will be paid for entirely by the one cent sales tax.

"It's something where everybody ends up having to pay a little bit and look at all the good things that you get from it," Olson said.

In fact, the new middle school is just the latest project to be funded by the one cent sales tax here.

Over the years, the sales tax money has paid to put air conditioning into two elementary schools, and put a $13 million addition onto the high school and renovate those facilities.

Superintendent Olson said this new middle school likely would not have been possible without the one cent sales tax revenues.

"I mean we would have had to bond for all of that money. And to raise $21 million dollars would be pretty difficult," she explained.

"The schools are so important," said Nathan Sondgroth, President and CEO of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce, who was on-hand at the groundbreaking ceremony to present a certificate of recognition to the school district for its contribution to the business community with this move.

Sondgroth said the one cent sales tax is one tax people don't mind paying.

"Whenever you raise a price, then there's always a concern," he said, "But, I think people understand that the marginal cost or the bit of the increase can help fund things that really do make positive impacts in the community."

"And so the benefit is certainly worth the cost," he added.

Construction of the new Clinton Middle School is expected to be complete by July 2014.

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