DIXON – The “We Are Dixon” group spent just short of $8,000 in a failed effort to pass a 1-cent sales tax initiative in Lee County.
The group tallied $9,501 in pledges with $8,051 collected and $7,927 spent, said John Thompson of the Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the “We Are Dixon” committee. Thompson said pledges ended up near the group’s goal of $10,000.
The largest donations were $500; the group took in 58 different donations for an average of $164 per donation.
“Most of it was spent on yard signs and advertising such as billboards, print media, radio, phone calls,” Thompson said. “There were no TV ads.”
These figures are required to be reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections quarterly, meaning the group registered as a ballot initiative committee will post a full disclosure of its funding and spending in January.
“We Are Dixon” was formed in October at the tail end of a quarterly filing period, so there is no fundraising data available yet through the state.
In comparison with similar ballot initiative organizations, the Friends in Support of Sales Tax for Marshall County Schools, with a county population of 12,640, raised more than $13,000, while the 1 Cent for Children of LaSalle County Schools, county population 113,924, raised more than $23,000, according to the state board of elections website.
We Are Dixon is waiting to hear if Lee County schools will once again put the 1-cent sales tax referendum on the April ballot. The deadline for schools to pass a resolution is in January. In order to be placed on the ballot, districts representing 51 percent of the county school enrollment must pass a resolution putting it on the ballot.
Dixon Board President Tom Balser said members will discuss the topic at their Dec. 12 meeting.
The group already has said it will rally again in April in support of the referendum.
Countywide, 58.9 percent of voters rejected the tax that would have brought about the construction of a $10 million to $15 million sports and activities complex in Dixon and maintenance upgrades in other county schools.
In opposition of the referendum, the Illinois chapter of super PAC Americans for Prosperity spent about $2,000 sending mailers and issuing robocalls. The effort from the national conservative group was part of a statewide project to defeat 12 referenda throughout Illinois, nine of them county sales tax initiatives similar to the 1-cent sales tax proposal.
If We Are Dixon ever is terminated, leftover funds would go to the Dixon Public School Foundation, as stated in its charter.