The April 4th ballot in Hancock County includes a referendum asking residents to aprove creation of a 1% sales tax to fund school facility needs. The tax could generate more than $700,000 annually.
Kent Young, Superintendent of the Nauvoo-Colusa School District, said his fellow Hancock County superintendents started talking about the countywide sales tax during their regular meetings. He said they looked at how nearby school districts are funding, or will be funding, facility needs.
Iowa has a statewide 1% local option sales tax to pay for school needs while McDonough County voters recently approved 1% school facility sales tax. Several other counties in west central Illinois also have the tax.
“If you go to Iowa, you are paying for their schools and if you go to Macomb, you will be paying for their schools,” said Young. “We thought we would get the revenue because there are so many tourists, especially here in Nauvoo-Colusa, who would help pay for the revenue.”
The money raised by the tax could be used for new construction or improvements as well as paying off bonds. It could not fund salaries, equipment, or technology.
Regional Superintendent John Meixner said the referendum requires a simple majority to pass. He said if approved, the tax would be implemented in January 2018 and the school districts would start receiving payments that spring.
The money collected will be distributed based on the percentage of Hancock County students a district serves. Meixner said it works out to about $250/student.
Estimated Share of School Facility Sales Tax
- Hamilton - $156,807
- Carthage (Elementary) - $118,824
- Southeastern - $113,178
- Warsaw - $109,585
- Illini West (High School) - $81,355
- Nauvoo-Colusa - $56,717
- LaHarpe (Elementary) - $49,275
- Dallas City (Elementary) - $29,000
- West Prairie - $2,053
- Mendon - $1,027
An information sheet provided by the districts states the tax would be imposed on the same general merchandise items as the state sales tax except:
- Licensed and titled vehicles
- Boats and RV’s
- Unprepared food intended for home consumption
- Drugs (including vitamins and OTC)
- Farm Equipment, parts and inputs
Kent Young said the revenue from the tax would allow his district to build a new gym without putting the full burden on local taxpayers.
“Since we moved out to one building, the gym space is not a good thing because we have elementary kids on one side and junior high kids on the other side. We would go ahead and bond that money and then take the $50,000 we would receive to pay it off.”