Local school referendums fail


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Originally Posted Online: March 18, 2014, 11:11 pm
Last Updated: March 19, 2014, 3:34 pm
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By Anthony Watt, awatt@qconline.com

Quad-Cities area voters soundly rejected four proposals to raise sales taxes and one to issue school bonds in Tuesday's primary election.

Rock Island and Whiteside counties rejected a one-cent sales tax to pay for school buildings, and Rock Island and Henry counties rejected a quarter-cent sales tax for public safety. Rockridge votes rejected a $14.5 million bond issue.

The proposed sales tax for schools was expected to generate $11.5 million for Rock Island County school districts and $4.2 million in Whiteside. The money generated would have only been used on school capital projects, either as direct funding or for related expenses such as paying off bonds, but not things like salaries, benefits, textbooks, computers or movable equipment.

The results in Rock Island County were 9,261 people voting against with 93.3 percent of precincts reporting as of about 10:30 p.m. At that time 7,412 people were reported to have voted for the measure.

As vote results were pending, Sarah Bohnsack — a member of YES Makes Cents For Students, the group supporting the measure — said that, if the measure lost, she was not sure how districts would fund their facilities needs.

In the weeks before the vote, supporters said the tax revenue would boost the economy, creating jobs through the projects and drawing people to the area because of improved schools. They said the revenue generated by the sales tax also could reduce school districts' reliance the property tax levy for capital projects.

Lawrence Bay, of Port Byron, opposed the sales tax measure. He said its defeat was a victory for Rock Island County consumers and Illinois government.

Opponents had said increasing the sales tax will widen the gap between the Illinois and Iowa sides of the Quad-Cities.

Iowa already has lower sales tax, they contended, so higher taxes in Rock Island County would drive more business and consumer dollars across the Mississippi River.

School districts freed from issuing bonds were also a concern, they said. Bonds usually require voter approval; less reliance on bonds could lessen voter influence on the districts.

The new tax money would have been distributed among districts based on enrollment.

Most of the districts, in the weeks before the election, drew up lists of projects they said would be made easier or possible by the sales tax if it were passed.

"I'm disappointed," said East Moline School District superintendent Kristen Humphries. The tax was really needed by the districts, he said. But he also understands the when people hear the word "tax" they often run the other way.

The districts have largely said they will forgo the life-safety portion of the property tax levy should the sales tax pass. That portion is used on facilities projects, and the amount generated varies by district, though it is generally much less than what the sales tax was expected to collect.

Whiteside County, with 56 of 60 precincts reporting, showed 1,950 voters approving the sales tax proposal and 2,799 voting against it.

Like their Rock Island County counterparts, the Whiteside districts would have received their money based on enrollment, and many had lists of projects on which they hoped to use the money.





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  Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Port Byron passengers and mails will be transported by the Sterling and Rock Island railroad.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The congregation of the First Methodist church worshiped in Harper's theater, where construction work is being done at the church site.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Three-eye baseball for Moline was assured the Danville Franchise will be transferred to the Plow city.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Roseville Methodist Church is observing its 100th anniversary.
1964 -- 50 years ago: The last remaining unfinished portion of Interstate 80 between the Quad-Cities and Joliet will be opened to traffic by Aug 12.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Of all the highlights of the last 12 years, this is the greatest of all, said Dennis Hitchcock, producer director of Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse, as he torched the mortgage, clearing a $220,000 loan financing the downtown Rock Island theater's beginnings in 1977.




(More History)