DIXON – Few residents would notice a proposed school tax increase if it passes, its main supporter said Tuesday.
“Only 1 percent of the population would notice if we changed the tax without telling anyone,” Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said.
To prove his point, Langloss asked nearly 100 people at a community meeting if they shopped in Rockford, Moline or some other city.
Nearly all raised their hands.
Then he asked if they had researched the sales tax rate in those towns beforehand.
“The sales tax rate won’t be a determining factor in where people shop if the rate is reasonable,” he said.
Langloss is heading a group of local leaders pushing for the passage of a Nov. 6 referendum to increase the sales tax for schools by 1 percentage point. The money would go toward a sports and activities center estimated to cost $10 million to $15 million.
The tax would be countywide, benefiting all of Lee County’s school districts.
One of the tax’s advantages would be that 30 percent of the revenue would come from out-of-county residents, Langloss said. It is expected to raise $1.3 million a year for the Dixon school district.
Langloss gave an hourlong presentation, urging the community to come together to better itself. Residents, he said, can’t let naysayers bring them down.
He acknowledged he was a naysayer 13 years ago when the city was pushing riverfront development. He said he was wrong.
Since then, he said, the development has made Dixon a destination town, with the recent Mumford & Sons concert as proof.
Dixon now must focus on getting a sports and activities center, Langloss said. As it is, student athletes must practice as late as 9:30 p.m. because of a lack of space. Runners are using school hallways during the winter.
Now, many families must go to other towns for sports, including Sterling’s Westwood complex, the chief said.
“We have a major void in our community that needs to be filled,” said Langloss, who is volunteering his time for the effort as a private resident. “It’s time to start.”
A new group, We Are Dixon, plans to go door to door urging people to vote for the tax. It also wants to put up yard signs and a billboard on state Route 2.
The majority of the project would be finished in one phase. It would have at least four basketball courts, an indoor track, an auditorium and several multipurpose rooms.
A second phase would include two large turf fields, and a potential third phase may involve a partnership with the YMCA to add an Olympic-size pool.
The school board is considering building the center at The Meadows, 567 acres owned by the Dixon Park District off Washington Avenue.
Some question that location.
Resident Don Riva asked Langloss about the expense of building roads to the center at The Meadows, saying it’s difficult to access now. He questioned whether the city would have to pony up the money for the improvements.
“Somebody will pay,” he said. “It will be the residents of Dixon, Ill.”
Langloss said the city isn’t interested in raising taxes. He noted the city was getting a “substantial amount of money.” He was referring to the proceeds of this week’s horse auction in the federal case against former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell, who is accused of misappropriating $53 million in city money over more than two decades.
“The city is working on strategies for the money that will come in,” the chief said. “They want the voice of the people.”
He added that the district was considering other sites.
Riva called it a typical “tax-and-spend” proposal, adding that he knew he was a minority in the meeting room at Reagan Middle School.
Langloss said people can always find a reason to say no.
“Dixon has to stop saying why we can’t do something,” he said.
Most in the audience applauded.
Langloss urged residents to become involved in the tax effort.
How to help
For more information on the campaign to increase the sales tax by 1 percentage point, go to facebook.com and search "We Are Dixon." Questions also can be emailed to email@example.com.
Those interesting in donating to the campaign can send checks to We Are Dixon, Midland States Bank, 101 W. First. St., Dixon IL 61021.
T-Shirts are available at firstname.lastname@example.org for $15 for adults and $10 for students.