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 Wednesday, Sept. 17, the 260th day of 2014. There are 105 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: We are told league merchants have paid no attention to the prohibition on selling ammunition, but continue to sell just as before the order was issued.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The Rev. R.F. Sweet, rector of Trinity Episcopal Parish, left for the East to visit his boyhood home in Boston before attending the general convention of the Episcopal Church in New York.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Dr. E.A. Anderson was named to succeed Dr. E.L. Kerns as head physician of the Modern Woodmen of America, and moved to Rock Island from Holdingford, Minn.
1939 -- 75 years ago: One week late, because of the outbreak of war, Dr. E.L. Beyer resumed his work as professor of romance languages at Augustana College. Dr. and Mrs. Beyer left Germany on the last train to the Belgian border.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Employees in Turnstyle stores in Moline and Davenport will vote Oct. 2 in an election set up by the Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Employees will vote either for the Retail Clerk International or for no union.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Rock Island High School is considering a step to help teen moms stay in school and get their diploma. The school board is expected to vote tonight on instituting an on-site child care center.

(More History)