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McLean County to decide fate for sales tax referendum

McLean county residents will have the opportunity on March 18 to vote for or against the sales tax increase proposed for school facilities.

The proposed sales tax increase was approved in December to be placed on the ballot when the Unit 5 school board passed the measure. Unit 5 school district has 54 percent of the kids in the county. The sales tax hinged on this decision.

The sales tax would be increased by one percent if passed. This money will be dedicated to maintaining and improving all schools throughout McLean County, Mary Yount, president of the District 87 school board, said. There are eight school districts in McLean County.

The total money generated from the tax is estimated to be over $16 million, according to the Regional Office of Education. The money will be distributed to each school based upon the student population, Yount said. The larger schools would be allotted the most money.

Unit 5 would receive roughly $9 million and District 87 would get $3.8 million. District 87 has 22 percent of the McLean County student population.

The allocation of funds to school districts centered upon population can fluctuate based upon yearly total enrollment.

Yount explained the reasoning behind the new sales tax for McLean County.

“Looking for different streams of revenue with money drying up from the state and federal level,” Yount said. “This is just another avenue we can use to help the students. It can help alleviate money in other areas.”

Another purpose for the increased sales tax is to shift some of the burden from the property tax, Yount said. Complaints have been made about the issues with the property tax and residents.

The money from the sales tax will be used toward maintenance projects such as new roofs, plumbing, electrical upgrades, heating and air conditioning. District 87 is looking to invest in future projects of infrastructure for their school district. They will use a portion of their money to pay off bonds they have taken out for facilities and security systems.

A few of the items which the sales tax is not allowed to cover include salaries and benefits, instructional costs and transportation.

Locations to vote for the proposed sales tax increase going toward school facilities include Washburn Memorial Building, Garrison City Auditorium and Turtle Lake Legion Hall. For a full list of locations, visit
visitmcleancounty.com/officials/precinctinfo.html.

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