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 Tuesday, Sept 2, the 245th day of 2014. There are 120 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: It is estimated that 300,000 people attended the recent Democratic convention in Chicago when Gen. George B. McClellan of New Jersey was nominated as a candidate for president of the United States.
1889 — 125 years ago: Alderman Frank Ill, Winslow Howard and Captain J.M. Montgomery returned from Milwaukee, where they attended the national Grand Army of the Republic encampment.
1914 — 100 years ago: Three members of the Rock Island YMCA accepted positions as physical directors of other associations. Albert Cook went to Kewanee, C.D. Curtis to Canton and Willis Woods to Leavenworth, Kan.
1939 — 75 years ago: Former President Herbert Hoover appealed for national support of President F.D. Roosevelt and Congress in every effort to keep the United States out of war.
1964 — 50 years ago: The Rock Island Junior chamber pf Commerce has received answers to about 65 % of the 600 questionnaires mailed out recently in a "Community Attitude Survey" to analyze sentiments of citizens towards their city's various recreational, educational, and civic service programs.
1989 — 25 years ago: The two thunderstorms passing through the Quad Cities last night and early today left some area residents reaching for their flashlights.

(More History)