District discusses one percent sales tax increase
Monday, the District 186 School Board discussed funding district facility updates with a one percent sales tax increase.
The sales tax would be imposed county-wide and will appear on the November ballot.
A one-percent sales tax increase would bring Springfield’s tax rate up to 9.75 percent. School board members say this would generate around $10 million per year for District 186 facilities.
“We haven’t passed a referendum of any type since 1984, which would be 34 years ago, and 80 percent of our buildings are 50 years or older,” said School Board President Mike Zimmers. “So if you could imagine living in a house that long, 50 years or older, at some point you’re going to have to do some reconstruction.”
The Master Plan’s phase one includes improvements like central air conditioning in all schools, taking out mobile units and possibly even building a new elementary school to combine Hazel Dell and Laketown Elementary.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce President Todd Maisch says taxpayers must weigh the value of school facilities while also considering the tax could hurt sales in the city.
“You get that sales tax up too high, I think that a lot of those people that come into Springfield to shop are considering whether they can find those same goods or comparable good somewhere else where the sales tax isn’t that high,” Maisch said.
This tax money could only go towards school facilities. It could not be used for things like teacher salaries or technology.
Money generated would be distributed to school districts throughout Sangamon County, based on student population.
Zimmer predicts the earliest construction would begin would be in 2020, if the sales tax increase is passed.