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Sales tax hike makes April ballot

Forrestville Valley approval tips the scale; Rochelle, Byron boards not in favor

OREGON – A countywide sales tax to benefit schools gained the support necessary to be placed before voters.

The Forrestville Valley School Board, which serves Forreston and German Valley, gave its unanimous approval Dec. 19, giving the measure the necessary votes to be placed on the April 9 ballot as a referendum.

Illinois statutes allow school district boards to initiate action to place a 1 percent sales tax question before voters in the county. For the referendum to get on the ballot, the boards that represent a majority of the student enrollment countywide must approve it.

The Forrestville Valley board’s approval put the students represented at 51.4 percent.

The school boards in the Oregon, Polo, Meridian, Creston, Eswood, and Kings districts also have approved the measure.

Three boards – Byron, Rochelle Elementary, and Rochelle High School – aren’t in favor of the tax and either rejected it or didn’t bring it to a vote.

If voters approve the sales tax, a portion of the revenue raised will go to every district that has students who live in Ogle County.

“The money follows the student,” Forrestville Valley Superintendent Lowell Taylor said.

The money will be split based on enrollment. In other words, since Forrestville Valley has 7 percent of the total county enrollment, that district would receive 7 percent of the money.

Forrestville Valley students who live in Stephenson County are not counted for the Ogle County sales tax.

The sales tax will bring in an estimated total of $2.6 million annually, or about $280 per student.

State statutes limit how the sales tax money can be spent.

Schools can use the money for new facilities, additions and renovations, land acquisition, ongoing maintenance, architectural planning, durable equipment (non-moveable items), fire prevention and life safety, disabled access and security, energy efficiency, parking lots, demolition, and roof repairs.

Oregon School Superintendent Tom Mahoney said the revenue from the sales tax would allow school districts to build, repair, and maintain facilities without increasing real estate taxes.

If the sales tax is approved by voters in April, the school districts will receive the first checks about 4 months later. 

The sales tax would be charged on retail purchases except for cars, trucks, and all-terrain vehicles, boats and recreational vehicles, mobile homes, unprepared food, drugs (including over the counter, and vitamins), farm equipment and parts, and farm inputs.

Oregon residents approved a citywide 1 percent sales tax at the Nov. 6 general election. Revenues from that sales tax will go to the city.

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