Frequently Asked Questions:
Why did Menard County school boards adopt a resolution to put the County Schools Facilities Tax on the November 6th ballot?
Most of the Boards of Education in Menard County wanted to give voters the opportunity to decide if a one cent sales tax should be imposed exclusively to pay for school facility purposes. The sales tax is a state approved alternative method to pay for school facilities instead of relying heavily on local property taxes. The PORTA Board feels having access to approximately $250,000 per year will allow the district to complete much needed facility needs without raising real estate taxes and will help reduce taxes in the future.
Why would individuals who pay property taxes in Menard County be interested in the County Schools Facilities Sales Tax?
Property owners bear the heaviest burden of paying for school facility maintenance, renovations, construction, and improvements. Currently, school districts must issue debt to pay for larger school facility needs which is funded through property taxes. The sales tax is alternative way to “share” the cost with visitors shopping and staying in Menard County, who will contribute to the annual Sales Tax revenue.
How will my property tax be affected?
The truth is that the 1% Sales Tax can reduce your property tax bill, either through utilizing the revenue to pay-off current debt or by replacing the need to incur debt to complete needed facility improvements. As exemplified by the Charleston school board in Coles County who promised to pay off (retire) Health/Life Safety bonds. They accomplished this during the 2014-2015 school year which resulted in the removal of the $1.03 bond/interest levy. 2015 property taxes went down $343 on a $100,000 home in Charleston because the school district paid its outstanding debt.
The school districts in Menard County can use the same strategy with money from the County School Facilities Sales Tax to pay off bonds relieving the burden from property taxes, and thus lowering property tax rates.
What is the difference between paying for schools through property taxes or paying for them through sales tax revenues? Schools are still funded through taxes. Why would I support a new tax?
The 1% Sales Tax is a fair deal for taxpayers because it is collected from all consumers, rather than just property owners. Home values rise and fall, subjecting local school districts to unfair budget turmoil. The 1% sales tax is spread over a much larger number of people including those who pass through the county, which proportionately decreases any impact on the local consumer. Also, depending on home values, what the average person spends in sales taxes on an annual basis is usually far less than their property taxes. The 1% Sales tax funding method will reduce the need for the school districts to rely heavily on the property taxes for school facilities.
How many counties in Illinois have passed the 1% Sales Tax?
Currently, there are 51 counties that have approved the 1% Sales Tax in the State of Illinois.
What items would be taxed?
Items taxed include “general merchandise” as defined by Illinois Department of Revenue.
Are services taxed?
Services are not taxed. Services include anything that is not tangible such as labor to repair something, dry cleaning, cleaning services, nail and hair salons, etc.
What items would not be taxed?
The following items would NOT be taxed:
§ Cars, trucks, ATVs
§ Boats & RVs
§ Mobile homes
§ Unprepared food (groceries)
§ Medications, drugs (Including over-the-counter and vitamins)
§ Farm equipment and parts; farm inputs; seed
Is PORTA Going to use these tax revenues to build a new all-weather football field?
- No, PORTA has adequate athletic facilities for our student-athletes to utilize. The district has much more immediate needs to contend with before considering something as frivolous as an all-weather football field.
§ Additions and renovations
§ Security, entrances, safety, disabled access
§ General maintenance
§ Fire prevention and life safety as required by law
§ Energy efficiency (HVAC, windows, etc.)
§ Parking lots
§ Roof repairs and replacement
§ Pay off existing debt and lower property tax rates
Since the sales tax is restricted, what can it NOT be used for?
The sales tax revenue can only be used for facilities. Revenue generated from the sales tax cannot be used for instructional costs (salaries), textbooks, buses, detached furniture and fixtures, computers, movable equipment, and operating costs such as utility bills.
What facility needs have been identified for our schools in Menard County, and would the new sales tax revenue completely pay for these needs?
Most of the school districts in Menard County have identified priority needs that would be funded through the 1% sales tax. Over the past several years, the school districts have deferred many needed projects due to budget constraints. These are not frivolous “wants” but desperate needs. The PORTA District lists the following facility needs as a priority:
· 1.02 million dollars of Health Life Safety projects which include:
· Tuck-pointing (JR/SR High, Central and Elementary)
· Sidewalk repair and replacement
· Water diversion at Petersburg Elementary
· Tile floor replacements at Central, Elementary and JR/SR High
· Entry and Exit improvement
· Redesign of entrances for increased security
· Installing vapor barrier under new tile at Central
· Façade improvements and repairs at Central and JR/SR High
· Parking lots repaired and blacktopped
· Additional immediate needs:
· Increase safety and security
· Track reconditioning
· Pool upgrades
· Roofing repairs
· Traffic redesign at the HS and Elementary
· Windows and the High School
· HVAC system upgrades at the Elementary
· Playground repairs at the Elementary
· Re-purpose or redesign of JR/SR High Tennis court area
· Athletic facility improvements
· Roof replacements and repairs (HS and Bus Barn)
Is it required to spend the sales tax revenue for facilities each year?
No. A school district may choose to save the sales tax revenue for a larger project.
I don’t have children attending Menard County schools anymore. Why should I support this sales tax increase?
Whether you are a senior citizen, a limited-income family, or have no affiliation to our school districts, all homeowners pay property taxes which is the primary funding source for the community’s public education. Anyone who pays property taxes in Menard County will reap the benefits of the shared sales tax, for other people living outside of Menard County are contributing toward public school facilities.
How will this impact our local economy?
Investing in school improvements and construction in Menard County has the potential to boost our local economy. Many projects funded by this sales tax will put people to work across the county. Excellent school systems with quality facilities and learning environments are a key factor in attracting families to live within our county.
§ School facilities: This dedicated revenue source will keep schools and classrooms maintained for safety, security, and sustainability.
§ Jobs and economic growth: Many projects funded by the sales tax will put local people to work and support local businesses throughout Menard County.
§ Local control of funds: Every school district will control how it uses this tax revenue through the elected school board members who represent each school community.
§ Shift away from property taxes: A sales tax represents a shift away from property taxes. School districts would become less reliant on property taxes with options to pay off existing bonds or avoid new property taxes.
§ Funding from outside our county: Visitors to Menard County will support schools with their spending. An estimated 30-40% of sales tax revenue comes from non-residents shopping, dining, and staying in Menard County.
§ Quality of life: Schools play an important role in attracting families to settle in our communities. Attracting new families and retaining our current residents help to ensure a positive future across Menard County.
How do school facilities improve the quality of education in our schools?
The revenue provided by the sales tax will mean an improved learning environment including an emphasis on safety and security for students across the county. Buildings will be maintained to increase their future years of service to our community. This revenue will allow Menard County school districts to provide the facilities necessary to support a 21st century education, which is critical to ensuring that our students have the tools they need to compete in a changing economy.
Who should I contact if I have questions or want more information?
You can contact Matt Brue, PORTA Superintendent by emailing at email@example.com