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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, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.






(More History)