WASHINGTON — The School Board for Washington Community High School threw its support Monday behind an effort by Tazewell County superintendents to place a 1 percent county school facilities sales tax on the April 2 ballot.
The same sales tax measure was narrowly defeated in November by a 51.5 percent to 48.5 percent margin.
School boards representing more than half of Tazewell County's public school students must pass resolutions like the one passed unanimously Monday by the Washington high school board to get the sales tax back on the ballot in April.
The November defeat marked the third time Tazewell County voters rejected the sales tax, but defeats in 2009 and 2013 were by much larger margins.
"We feel we did a good job informing voters about the sales tax before the November election, but the communication wasn't great everywhere. Everyone needs to have a structured message," said Washington high school Superintendent Kyle Freeman.
Revenue generated by the sales tax can be used only for construction or renovation projects, or to pay off bonds for facilities work, which lowers property taxes.
"Anytime a new tax is on the ballot, it has a negative connotation," said School Board member Gloria McNett. "Putting the school facilities sales tax back on the ballot will give us more time to educate the public about how the sales tax can be used."
It's estimated Washington high school would receive about $936,000 annually in school facilities sales tax revenue.
Prior to the November election, the Washington high school board approved a policy that requires the board to use no less than 50 percent of school facilities sales tax revenue to pay off construction bonds, and to include that revenue in budget talks every two years.
Peoria, Woodford, Fulton, Mason and Logan counties, which share a border with Tazewell County, all have a school facilities sales tax in place. Fifty-four of 102 counties statewide have a school facilities sales tax.
Also Monday, the Washington high school board approved a $14,511,980 property tax levy for 2018 (taxes payable in 2019), a 4.4 percent increase from the $13,899,197 levy in 2017.
The 2017 tax rate for property owners was $2.71 per $100 equalized assessed valuation. The 2018 tax rate is expected to increase to $2.84 per $100 EAV. Tazewell County determines the tax rate.
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