Voters in Mercer and Henry counties will decide in Tuesday's election whether to approve a 1 percent sales tax, the proceeds of which would be divided proportionally among county schools based on the number of students each has.|
In Mercer County, there are three school districts that will benefit if the measure is passed: Sherrard, Mercer County and United. According to numbers provided by the Illinois Department of Revenue, Mercer County would split $640,000 among the three districts.
In Henry County, nine school districts would split the proceeds of the collections in that county. Estimates are that the 1-cent tax there would bring in about $3 million annually.
Not everything will be taxed the additional 1 percent. Items such as cars, trucks and ATVs won't be affected. Nor will unprepared food (such as that sold in grocery or other retail stores), pharmaceutical drugs, farm equipment, farm parts or farm inputs.
The sales tax revenue can be used only to address ongoing maintenance and repair projects in schools, such as roofs, heating and air conditioning, asbestos abatement, renovations, The money cannot be used for things such as salaries, textbooks, buses and computers.
Mercer County superintendent Alan Boucher said the tax, if approved, would l help offset the loss of revenue from the state.
Geneseo Superintendent Scott Kuffel said, with the state doing "ever more drastic" cutbacks and district having to continue to put the burden on property taxpayers, it's "vitally" important that voters pass the measure so people coming into the county as tourists or just crossing the county will contribute when they buy gasoline or go to a restaurant.
"It's a little more equitable type of a tax," he said, adding that the funds generated always would be useful. "Facility needs never go away."
He noted Iowa schools have had a school sales tax for years.
"People just need to drive across the river to see how the 1 percent has helped those districts," he said.
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