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How would other districts use sales tax money?

Published: Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – The Dixon school district has made clear what it wants to do with revenue from a proposed increase in the sales tax countywide – build a sports and activities complex.

While Dixon is looking at new construction, the three other major districts don't have any big projects planned. Mostly, they plan to use the money for existing buildings.

The money would come from a new 1 percent sales tax that proposes to dedicate revenue to Lee County's school districts, which would divide the income based on their enrollments.

The tax is on the Nov. 6 ballot.

If it passes, Dixon will get an estimated $1.3 million a year, while $452,000 will go to Amboy, $287,000 to AFC, and $142,000 to Paw Paw, according to We Are Dixon, a group promoting the tax increase.

John Zick, superintendent of the AFC district, said the school board hadn't decided exactly how the new money would be spent. But he said it would more than likely be invested in the district's three school buildings, which were built in the 1950s.

"We have structural needs in each of our buildings that need attention," Zick said. "We'll probably take a closer look at student enrollment, look at the condition of each of the buildings, look at the costs of upgrading them, and determine where the money should be spent."

He said the sales tax is a good opportunity to improve school buildings without increasing property taxes. He noted that out-of-county residents would pay a good portion of the proposed tax. According to We Are Dixon, that would amount to 30 percent of the revenue.

Paw Paw Superintendent Bob Priest said his board would use the money to pay off its existing construction bonds.

Amboy Superintendent Jeff Thake said one of his district's biggest issues is aging facilities.

"That's what the funds would be used for," he said.

Zick stressed that each district would decide what to do with its funds.

"Some people, through lack of information, believe that some of our money would go toward the projects that Dixon is putting together," he said. "Our portion is separate. It has to be used within the district."

The money has to go toward buildings and other capital; it can't be used for day-to-day expenses, such as wages.

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