The Clinton school district could receive an estimated $700,000 annually generated for upgrades to facilities if voters approve an increase in the sales tax.
The sales tax would be increased by a one fourth increment to an accumulated one percent in a referendum planned to take place next year. The school board would have to decide by December whether to present such a referendum to county officials.
“If the Clinton school board adopts the resolution before the end of 2013, it will be on the ballot in the March 2014 primary election,” Mark Jontry, regional superintendent of education, said.
If the countywide tax is approved, the DeLand-Weldon and Farmer City based Blue Ridge school districts also would benefit. The Clinton county school district is in DeWitt County. The district is composed of four elementary schools, one junior high and one high school.
The money would be apportioned based upon enrollment. They would look at where they have the greatest need to spend the money. A few other districts with a smaller piece of the county will benefit too.
Jeff Holmes, superintendent of the Clinton school district, discussed some of the plans drawn up with the money being produced.
The new tax is meant as a facilities tax aimed at maintaining buildings and keeping them in shape for the long term, Holmes explained.
“The biggest thing is what we call debt service with the money,” Holmes said. “This is where a large portion of the dollars are helping to pay off the elementary school we are building. By doing that, it will allow us to lower the property tax one to two cents for folks and put the sales tax money in place of that.”
The new elementary school Holmes referred to is a new $14 million elementary school progressing on schedule. The school on Illini Drive is expected to open in August 2014.
Additionally, not everything will be hit if this one percent tax is approved. Some of the items to be exempt from the tax would be agricultural products, cars, medicine and unprepared food, said Holmes.
“The tax allows us to take a portion of money and continue to implement the maintenance of our existing buildings and after this year we will open a new school in September of 2014.”
As a result of the tax, the Clinton school district will be able to get rid of two of their older buildings constructed in 1905 and 1924.
Two of the schools in the Clinton district as of now use geothermal to heat and cool the schools. This sales tax will hopefully allow for an expansion of this process toward the other schools.
More information will be available on this topic at the next Clinton school board meeting.