Those present were Rick Hobler, board president; Jim Mammen, vice
president; Reatha Owen, secretary; Marianne Krusz; Darrel Vermeire;
and David Welch.
The first item on the agenda was a resolution to place a
referendum question on the April 2011 ballot, asking voters to
approve a 1 percent retailer's occupation and service occupation tax
in the county, with the proceeds to be used exclusively for school
The second item was a resolution promising that if the tax
commonly referred to as a sales tax is approved, the LCHS portion of
the annual property tax assessment will be reduced by 6 percent.
In a conversation with Robert Bagby, high school superintendent,
prior to the meeting, he outlined the benefits of changing the
school's revenue source and how the money could and could not be
The County Schools Facility Occupation Tax Law was passed and put
into effect by the state of Illinois in October of 2007.
This law enabled school districts to levy a sales tax on certain
consumer products and services, with specific uses for the money
outlined by the law. Since that time, a number of Illinois counties
have implemented the tax, including most recently Macon County.
As voters prepare to consider this issue in April, Bagby said
they should be aware that this is not an across-the-board increase
in sales tax. There are several products and services that will not
see this tax increase, including grocery products, medication,
medical supplies and services that are currently tax-exempt.
Also on the exempt list would be farm equipment and any vehicle
requiring a title for ownership, such as cars, trucks, motorcycles,
and even boats or airplanes.
Products that will be taxed include gasoline, alcohol products,
tobacco and general merchandise. The service industries that will be
taxed will include restaurants and motels.
For Lincoln and Logan County, with Interstate 55 passing on the
west side of the city, Bagby noted that there are thousands of
people who get off the interstate at Lincoln and purchase gas, eat a
meal at a restaurant and even stay over in one of our motels.
It is expected that with local residents and out-of-town visitors
all paying the tax, the revenue generated would amount to
approximately $1.2 million annually.
When the tax law was passed in 2007, it was done with
restrictions on the use of the funds.
Under the new law, money generated through the sales tax can be
used only for school facility purposes such as acquisition or
construction of new facilities, rehabilitation or improvement of
current facilities, purchases of long-term durable equipment, and
updating of fire prevention, safety, energy conservation and
disability access programs in the schools.
The money cannot be used for increasing wages or benefits to
employees, hiring new employees, or in paying the general daily
operations costs of the schools.
The money can also be used to pay off existing bonds and can be
cash-pooled for future uses, which should eliminate the issuing of
new bonds in the future.
For the property owner this is an important issue. Bonds, simply
put, are loans where repayment is guaranteed through property tax
levies. Bagby said the last bond issue for the high school was done
in 2007 so that life/safety improvements could be made at the
facility. He noted that the sales tax will assist in paying off that
bond, but in addition, the school will have an established facility
fund for the future.
Every 10 years, the school goes through a life/safety inspection
as mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education. As a result of
these inspections, the state board will issue mandates for
improvements that must be made to facilities for the safety and
well-being of the students.
With a facility fund in place, the school will have immediate
cash to draw on for these improvements, and Logan County property
owners will be less likely to have to bear the burden of additional
[to top of second column]
The second resolution passed by the LCHS board Tuesday night was
a promise that if voters approve the sales tax referendum and the
Logan County Board implements it, the high school will lower its
share of the Logan County property tax levy by 6 percent.
Bagby noted that for a property that is currently assessed at
$125,000, this will result in a reduction of property taxes by
approximately $90 per year.
Currently the tax rate for the high school is $2.30992, the
second-lowest in the area, with only West Lincoln-Broadwell being
less at $2.14775. Bagby said the 6 percent decrease would make the
LCHS levy the lowest in the county.
If the referendum passes in April, the decision on imposing the
tax will then go to the Logan County Board.
This was mentioned during the board meeting, with David Welch
asking what would happen with the resolution if the county decides
not to go for the full 1 percent tax increase. He noted that even if
voters approve the 1 percent, the county board may elect a smaller
amount: for example, 0.5 percent.
The discussions that ensued maintained that the resolution for
the 6 percent would be adjusted accordingly, but there will still be
a promised reduction in property taxes.
According to state law, in order for the tax to be passed, school
districts representing at least 51 percent of the student population
must approve a resolution similar to the sales tax resolution passed
The districts, however, are not required to pass any resolutions
regarding property tax abatement. Bagby said that doing the property
tax abatement for LCHS was a voluntary move on the part of the
board, and he personally supported it because in the long run, it
would help Logan County property owners.
,On Tuesday two other school districts were to vote on the 1
District 27, which represents the city elementary schools and
Lincoln Junior High School, passed its resolution Tuesday afternoon.
Bagby said that with District 27 plus the high school, the 51
percent needed has been achieved.
Also voting on a similar motion Tuesday night was the
Chester-East Lincoln school district.
Bagby said that other districts such as Mount Pulaski will be
following suit in the near future.
The idea of asking for a 1 percent sales tax comes from work that
has been done by a school cooperation committee. This committee came
to be as a result of a consolidation study conducted in 2007. The
committee's purpose is to explore means of making the Logan County
school systems more productive and efficient while improving the
quality of education for Logan County students.
The group conducted the research on the sales tax and recommended
it to all the district school boards.
If the sales tax is implemented in Logan County, it will not take
effect until the year 2012. Once funds start coming in, the money
will go to the Regional Office of Education, where Jean Anderson,
regional superintendent of schools, will then disburse it to the
individual districts, based on their student population.
[By NILA SMITH]
Past related articles