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First school board set to back sales tax

Rock Falls district first in Whiteside County to take a vote

ROCK FALLS – The Rock Falls Elementary School Board could be the first of several in Whiteside County to back a 1 percent sales tax increase to support school facilities.

The board will vote Wednesday on a resolution to place a request for a sales tax increase on the ballot in April.

“This will be our first real, true discussion about it,” Superintendent Dan Arickx said. “But from all the feedback I’ve gotten from them [the board members], ... I’ve got every reason to believe they’re for it.”

The East Coloma, Morrison and Sterling school boards could follow next week. East Coloma and Morrison will vote Dec. 18, and Sterling will vote Dec. 19.

School boards representing more than 50 percent of the students in the county must adopt resolutions to support a sales tax increase by Jan. 22 for a request to appear on the ballot in April.

If Rock Falls adopts a resolution Wednesday, and East Coloma and Morrison adopt resolutions next week, then Sterling – with its 36 percent of the enrollment in the county – almost certainly would need to pass a resolution to keep the effort alive.

The East Coloma board supports a sales tax increase, Superintendent Kevin Andersen said. The Morrison board is leaning toward backing the proposal, Superintendent Suellen Girard said.

The Sterling board has not yet indicated whether it will support a sales tax increase, Superintendent Tad Everett said.

Other boards could follow next week, too. River Bend and Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico meet Monday, and Montmorency meets Dec. 19.

The Erie and Rock Falls High School boards will not discuss the sales tax at their meetings next week.

“The board is not going to pursue this,” Rock Falls High School Superintendent Jane Eichman said. “The board feels strongly about the poor economic times and hitting the taxpayers up for yet another cost.”

If a sales tax increase appears on the ballot in April, and if voters approve it, each school district would get a proportion of the annual county sales tax revenue based on its share of enrollment, regardless of whether the district supported the measure.

School districts could use their cut of sales tax revenue to build a new school building, make energy efficiency upgrades or repair parking lots, among other facilities needs. They also could use the money to abate property taxes levied to pay off existing capital improvement bonds.

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

What districts would receive

How much money it is estimated each district would get from sales tax revenue if the measure makes the April ballot and passes, based on the percentage of county students each district has:

School District: % of county's students, projected revenue

Sterling: 36 percent, $1,524,457

Morrison: 13.2 percent, $561,040

Rock Falls Elementary: 12.2 percent, $516,276

River Bend (Fulton): 11.7 percent, $494,392

Prophetstown-Lyndon-Tampico: 9.9 percent, $420,739

Rock Falls High School: 7 percent, $294,963

Montmorency: 3.4 percent, $144,157

East Coloma: 2.8 percent, $118,873

Erie: 1.9 percent, $82,004

Source: Stifel, Nicolaus and Co.

What would it cost you?

Illinois consumers pay sales tax on most things. They do not pay sales tax on: vehicles, boats and RVs; mobile homes; farm equipment, parts and inputs; unprepared food, such as bananas, milk and bread; and drugs, including over-the-counter medications and vitamins.

Here's what a few everyday purchases cost now, including the 6.75 percent sales tax in Whiteside County, and how much their cost would rise with a 1 percentage point tax increase:

• A Quarter Pounder with Cheese Extra Value Meal at McDonald's: $5.54 to $5.59, a 5-cent increase.

• A pair of Levi's jeans at JC Penney: $39.50 to $39.87, a 37-cent increase.

• A 32-inch Samsung LCD HDTV at Walmart: $351.21 to $354.50, a $3.29 increase.

To attend

The Rock Falls Elementary School Board meets at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Merrill School, 602 Fourth Ave. Call 815-626-2604 for an agenda.

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