EDGINGTON -- Rockridge school district members on Monday night learned more about referendums to issue $14.9 million bonds for a centralized elementary school and Rock Island County's proposed 1 percent sales tax for school facilities.
Both issues are on the March 18 ballot, and school board members on Monday voted to abate a .05 percent fire prevention tax if the countywide sales tax is approved.
Tom Parchert, a member of the Rockridge Forward group backing the bond issue to build a centralized elementary school, said the cost of the new building wouldn't be much more in the long run than continuing to fund the district's current three elementary buildings.
"One thing we can't ignore is the life-safety issues," he said. "Your taxes will rise to pay for those. You don't get a vote."
Superintendent Chester Lien said he anticipates it will cost $500,000 to $800,000 to maintain each of the three buildings over the next 10 years. Between 2024 and 2034, he predicts it will take another $1.5 million to $2 million per school.
Bond supporters say a new school would encourage families to move to the community, help deliver a more consistent curriculum, cut energy costs and bring better technology.
Some community members, however, expressed concerns that raising property taxes would drive people away. The district already is seeing consistently enrollment declines, they said. Last year Rockridge had 332 fewer students than in 1993.
"If there's anything that's important to me, it's our school system and our children," said Sarah Bohnsack, co-chair of the YES Makes Cents for Students campaign backing the countywide sales tax for school facilities.
Similar sales taxes already exist in neighboring counties, she said, adding "it's really a new approach to funding school facilities" in Rock Island County.
The tax would be added to the current sales tax in the county, which is 6.25 percent to 9 percent, depending upon the community.
The tax would only affect retail items already taxed, and schools could only use the money for certain expenses. Excluded would be salaries or overhead costs, textbooks, computers, operating costs, buses or detached furniture and equipment.
If approved, the sales tax is expected to provide Rockridge with $560,000 annually. Board members said the money would be used for repairs and updates to buildings and outdoor facilities.
Today is Sunday, July 27, the 208th day of 2014. There are 157 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: The Rock Island Paper Mill is now operating. It is an establishment which our people ought to encourage by saving all rags for the mill, where you can get cash and the highest prices for them. 1889 -- 125 years ago: E. W. Robinson purchased from J.T. Miller the livery stable on the triangle south of Market Square. 1914 -- 100 years ago: Henry Kramer was elected president of the Tri-City Typothetae Franklin Club, which took the place of the Tri-City Ben Franklin Club. 1939 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Floyd Furh, Illinois City, was first-place winner in the second annual Gov. Horner Farm floral contest. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Nearly 4,000 people are expected to attend weekend sessions of the Jehovah's Witnesses Assembly being held at the Masonic Temple. 1989 -- 25 years ago: The B-29 Super-Fortress bomber is impressive looking, and it did the job during World War II. Its claim to fame is dropping the atomic bombs in Japan to end the war. Only one B-29 is operational in the world today. It is on display at the Quad City Airport in Moline until Friday.