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Sales tax vote will come in January

Board likely to pass resolution; other schools also in favor

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 2:32 p.m. CDT

DIXON – The Dixon School Board will vote in January on a resolution to put a 1-cent sales tax referendum back on the ballot.

Five of the seven school board members spoke favorably of the resolution at Wednesday’s meeting as Superintendent Michael Juenger reported the other Lee County schools were in favor of passing their its own resolutions.

Countywide, 58.9 percent of voters rejected the tax on the November ballot that would have brought about the construction of a sports and activities complex in Dixon and maintenance upgrades in other county schools.

Board members Woody Lenox and Kevin Sward raised questions about the location of the proposed complex, initially proposed for the Meadows.

“I don’t have a secure notion of the Meadows situation,” Sward said.

Lenox added that the Meadows might not have the room to accommodate an educational campus, if the board elects to go in that direction for the future.

“At this point, there might be no room,” Lenox said. “And I still don’t understand the full cost, or that we’ve discussed any further options.”

However the board decides to move forward with the complex, board member Jim Schielein said the added revenue cannot hurt the district.

Juenger reported annual utilities and supplies estimates at $94,000 and $110,000 for personnel costs, based on no partnerships. A one-time cost of about $48,000 is expected for equipment needed to get started.

Li Arellano, a Dixon businessman who argued against the tax in a debate conducted by Sauk Valley Media, again spoke out against the proposed sales tax during the public comment period.

Juenger also said Ogle County has asked the Dixon School District to vote on a resolution to put a 1-cent sales tax on its county’s ballot, because Dixon’s school district extends into Ogle County.

Also Wednesday, Board President Tom Balser announced he would not run again for school board after 12 years of service. He said one challenge lies ahead before the end of his term.

“I want to reach a fair settlement for everybody and one that is sustainable for our budget,” he said, making reference to the expired teachers contract. “We’ll get there, and I hope to limit the collateral damage.”

Along with Balser, seats now held by Lenox, Pam Tourtillott and newly appointed John Jacobs will be up for election. Petitions to run for school board can be turned in during normal business hours at the district office, Monday through Dec. 20 and from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 26.

The board also passed a tax levy asking for $16,366,473, which is a 4-percent increase from last year’s levy.

Finance director Dave Blackburn said the school is not expected to collect that amount due to decreasing property values within the district, however, he expects the tax rate to decrease slightly due to one of the school’s bond payments expiring.

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