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Dixon schools: Center would cost $200,000 a year to run

Officials say budget would cover costs

Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 2:09 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 1:40 a.m. CST

DIXON – The Dixon School District could spend more than $200,000 a year to run a proposed sports and activities center, officials say.

On Tuesday, Lee County voters will decide on a 1 percent sales tax for school facilities. The revenue would be divided among all Lee County public school districts based on enrollment.

Dixon schools officials say they would expect to use their share to build the sports and activities center, which has been estimated to cost between $10 million and $15 million.

Until this week, though, the school district hadn't released an estimate on the cost to run the center.

Thursday, district officials released estimates for those expenses: $110,000 a year on personnel, and $94,000 on utilities and supplies.

But officials said those numbers were on the high end because they don't include potential income or the center's green features, which could reduce utility costs.

The district expects the YMCA and the Dixon Park District will have programs at the center, particularly on Sundays, which would bring in revenue.

"Although no formal agreements have been reached with the YMCA and the Park District, the belief is that partnerships can be worked out that would allow the facility to be open longer hours and more days without additional expense to the district," the report states.

Under state law, the 1 percent tax cannot pay for running the complex or any other facility.

If the tax passes, the district will issue bonds to build the complex. The district's bond payments are estimated at $1 million a year – less than the $1.2 million a year that the tax is expected to bring in.

The district plans to spend the additional $200,000 on smaller capital projects, Superintendent Michael Juenger said.

The money for such smaller projects usually would come from the district's operations and maintenance fund. So with the new money, the district would have the funds available to run the proposed complex, Juenger said.

Juenger said he doubted the district would ever have to tap the education fund to cover expenses of the sports and activities center. That fund pays for teachers' salaries and other classroom-related expenses.

"We would go to a lot of other funds before we would go the education fund," he said.

Tax opponents say the sports and activities complex would detract from the district's primary mission of education. Supporters, however, point to evidence indicating that sports and other extracurricular activities help students do better in the classroom.

Whiteside County's school superintendents are now considering putting a 1 percent sales tax on the April 9 ballot.

 

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