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Sales tax informational meeting Wednesday

School officials to learn basics of proposal process

STERLING – Whiteside County school officials considering a 1 percent sales tax hike will learn more at a meeting Wednesday night at Morrison High School.

Representatives from Stifel, Nicolaus and Co., a brokerage and investment banking firm, will help local superintendents and school board members understand the process of getting the measure on the ballot and the legal use of funds generated by such an increase, Sterling Superintendent Tad Everett said.

Districts would be able to use the funds on building projects only, per state law.

Lee County residents will vote Tuesday on a 1 percent sales tax increase there. The Dixon School District plans to use its share of the money to build a sports and activities complex. Other districts would use their portions to improve buildings or pay off construction bonds. Tax revenue is distributed based on school enrollments.

Whiteside County school officials have tried twice in the last 4 years to pass a tax increase. The last time, in April 2010, voters denied the referendum, 56 percent to 44 percent.

The Sterling superintendent is optimistic voters will understand the importance of such a tax increase and support it.

School revenue is the lowest it has been in the last 5 years, yet the district has not raised its tax rate and is in the second year of a 3-year budget-reduction plan, Everett said.

“I feel it’s prudent to pursue this at this time,” he said.

Local school boards must adopt resolutions in support of a sales tax increase by Jan. 22, and officials must submit a referendum question to the county clerk by Jan. 31, for the measure to appear on the April ballot.

The Sterling School Board likely will make its decision at its December meeting, Everett said.

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