Rockridge educates residents about March 18 ballot issues

Originally Posted Online: March 03, 2014, 9:29 pm
Last Updated: March 06, 2014, 1:20 pm
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By Kelly Steiner,

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.


Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Aug. 30, the 242nd day of 2014. There are 123 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: A large pair of elk, captured in Iowa, were exhibited in Market Square today.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Rock Island Arsenal dam was being constructed under the supervision of Charles Frances, of Lowell, Mass.
1914 — 100 years ago: Mrs. Frank Mixer, of Rock Island, was the winner of the final preliminary for the women's handicap golf cup at Rock Island arsenal links.
1939 — 75 years ago: Sixteen hundred persons — many from war-fearful Europe — arrived in New York aboard the German liner Bremen. For two days on the trip, passengers were cut off from the world with both incoming and outgoing radio messages banned.
1964 — 50 years ago: Police reported five youths have been involved in the theft of about seven cars in recent weeks. Three of the youths were arrested Saturday afternoon, one was in custody as the result of a previous arrest, and the fifth is expected to be arrested today.
1989 — 25 years ago: The Rock Island/Milan School Board is asking the city to tear down Franklin School and allow the school district to pay back the estimated $100,00 cost during 10 years.

(More History)