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1-cent sales tax shot down

Jacobs says tax might be done

No sports and activities complex in Dixon meant no difference.

For the second time in six months, a 1-percent sales tax for school facilities failed in Lee County. This time by a wider margin.

Despite the Dixon School Board saying it would not build a new sports and activities complex with the new funds, as it had planned in November, about 72.8 percent of voters said “no” to the new tax.

Last November, 58.9 percent of county voters rejected the measure.

In Whiteside County, 54.2 percent of voters rejected the tax – for a third time.

The tax would have brought $1.4 million annually to Dixon schools, $403,000 to Amboy schools and $270,000 to Ashton-Franklin Center schools, according to estimates provided by the Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education.

Dixon School Board member John Jacobs, who received the most votes in his race, was disappointed by the result, calling it a decisive defeat.

“It’s definitely going to be an uphill battle,” Jacobs said. “We’ll have to decide what to do to get a new revenue source. ... It’s done. I think the people have spoken.”

Had voters approved the increase, each school district would have received a proportion of the annual county sales tax revenue based on its share of overall county enrollment, regardless of whether the district supported the measure.

Each district could have used its share of money to construct new buildings or renovate existing buildings; tackle safety issues; buy land, and fix roofs, windows and boilers, among other improvements.

A district also could use the money to abate property taxes levied to pay off existing construction bonds.

The Dixon Board of Education chose not to pursue the sports and activities center in conjunction with the sales tax.

The board released a position statement saying that if voters approved the tax, “the dollars would be used to complete needed work in the buildings and help keep property taxes down.”

Also, the board is pursuing land that could lead to a center being built. The next board will determine what to do with the land, which also could be used to build a K-12 campus.

There were no billboards, no rallies and no big advertisement campaigns this time from “We Are Dixon,” a group that supported the tax. The quieter effort brought about a bigger defeat.

More than $7 million in renovations were estimated in recommendations to Ashton-Franklin Center’s more than 50-year-old buildings. Both the middle and high schools have roof concerns. Walls in the middle school need to be replaced.

In Amboy, the district plans to use the possible funds for building maintenance, which may include roofing or heating and ventilation.

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