Voters to decide school facility sales tax March 18

Marianne Gillespie
mgillespie@timestoday.com

In less than a week, Peoria County voters will decide the fate of the county school facility sales tax referendum.

If approved on Tuesday, the 1 percent sales tax is estimated to generate $18 million per year. Of that amount, Illinois Valley Central District 321 would receive $1.4 million. Each school district would receive its portion of the additional tax based upon enrollment in the school district. IVC District 321 is the third largest district in the county.

The funds can only be used for facility improvements, not salaries or operational costs, or to pay off previous building bonds.

IVC District 321 officials have compiled a current list of the district’s top priorities, grouped in three year increments.

“The problem with creating this list is that needs/priorities can change very quickly,” Superintendent Chad Allison said.

The items on the list are not set in stone and the school board members must approve the projects as they normally would.

Whether or not the referendum passes, many of the items will need to be tackled in one way or another.

“Roof repairs are now at the top of the list, but because of the weather, we haven’t been able to get a firm cost estimate on even the Mossville issues we are having,” Allison said of the leaking occurring at Mossville School.

In the first three years, the list not only includes roof repairs for all four school buildings, but also asbestos abatement at South School and Chillicothe Elementary Center; replacing Mossville bleachers, lockers and boiler; and renovating the CEC band/chorus room, updating science labs.

In years four through six, various renovations are on the list at each of the schools, and at seven years and beyond, replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at the high school and CEC, as well as adding storage space in all the buildings.

Also listed in each of these groupings is to pay down or off facility bonds the district currently has with any “excess funds.”

The additional tax is on retail goods, and does not include groceries, prescription medication, big-ticket items that must be titled and services not already taxed.

Just as it is now, sales tax in different cities within the county may be different. The city of Chillicothe’s sales tax is currently 7.25 percent and would be 8.25 percent if the additional tax is approved.

Voters in 18 counties in Illinois have approved the measure for their respective counties.

Parent Brook Cranford told the Chillicothe City Council that the referendum is written in such a way that the tax funds would not become a way for the state to increase its coffers, the money would go directly to the county to be disbursed to the school districts.

It would be a permanent tax unless it was put back on the ballot for voters to discontinue it, Cranford said.

The referendum must pass with a majority by all the voters within the county.

The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce has voiced its opposition to the additional tax.

“The proposed 1 percent sales tax increase will lift Peoria County to an undesirable position of collecting one of the highest sales tax rates in the state of Illinois,” a press release stated, including that the board of directors voted to oppose the measure. “We feel strongly this increase will adversely affect retail operations in Peoria County as shoppers choose to make purchases in lower taxed contiguous areas.”

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IVC District 321 needs/priorities

The following is a list of items, provided by IVC District 321, which could be funded through the proposed 1 percent sales tax.

One to three years

Roof Repairs/Replacement – all four buildings

CEC Asbestos Ceiling Abatement

CEC Asbestos Tile Abatement

South Asbestos Tile Abatement

South Asbestos Shelving Abatement

Mossville Bleacher Replacement

Mossville Locker Replacement

CEC Band/Chorus Room Renovation

Science Lab Updates

Mossville Boiler Replacement

* Refund current outstanding facilities bonds with any excess funds

Four to six years

Butler Building Renovation

Drop Ceiling at South North/South Pods

CEC Kitchen Update

High School Gym A/C

Mossville Boys and Girls Locker Rooms Renovation

HS Gym Elevator

* Refund current outstanding facilities bonds with any excess funds

Seven-plus years

CEC HVAC Replacement

High School HVAC Replacement

Additional storage space in all buildings

* Refund current outstanding facilities bonds with any excess funds

The following is a list of items, provided by IVC District 321, which could be funded through the proposed 1 percent sales tax.

One to three years

Roof Repairs/Replacement – all four buildings

CEC Asbestos Ceiling Abatement

CEC Asbestos Tile Abatement

South Asbestos Tile Abatement

South Asbestos Shelving Abatement

Mossville Bleacher Replacement

Mossville Locker Replacement

CEC Band/Chorus Room Renovation

Science Lab Updates

Mossville Boiler Replacement

* Refund current outstanding facilities bonds with any excess funds

Four to six years

Butler Building Renovation

Drop Ceiling at South North/South Pods

CEC Kitchen Update

High School Gym A/C

Mossville Boys and Girls Locker Rooms Renovation

HS Gym Elevator

* Refund current outstanding facilities bonds with any excess funds

Seven-plus years

CEC HVAC Replacement

High School HVAC Replacement

Additional storage space in all buildings

* Refund current outstanding facilities bonds with any excess funds

IVC District 321 needs/priorities