Dear Sullivan School District Parent,
On November 4, 2014, the voters of Moultrie County will be asked to approve a proposal to provide funding to all county school districts through a 1% sales increase. The revenue from this sales tax can only be used to maintain and improve school facilities or to make payments on existing bonded debt.
I’d like you to know what this means for our school district.
First, this 1-cent sales tax will provide a source of revenue that will be used for: Safety and security upgrades Classroom improvements Energy efficient building upgrades Technology infrastructure improvements (wiring, etc.) Other facility improvements (see the attached brochure)
Second, while this new sales tax can only be used for facilities, it will relieve much pressure on the operating side of our budget. Every time a roof leaks, a furnace needs repaired, or some other kind of facility condition must be addressed, that takes money from our general revenue and away from instruction and curriculum. And the more efficient we operate our buildings in terms of utility costs and other factors, again, the more money we free-up on the operating side.
It is important for you to be fully informed about this issue. So first, let’s look at the ballot wording. The question on the ballot will appear as follows:
“Shall a retailer’s occupation tax and service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a “Sales Tax”) be imposed in Moultrie County at a rate of 1% to be used exclusively for school facility purposes?”
We expect the penny increase (or 1%) in the county sales tax will annually generate approximately $425,000 for our district. What follows is how this revenue can be used, and how it cannot be used.
First, the sales tax revenues can be used for: New or remodeled school facilities Additions and renovations Land acquisitions Safety and security improvements Energy efficiency Paying of building bonds Architectural planning and engineering
Second, the sales tax revenues cannot be used for operating costs such as: Salaries and benefits Instructional costs Textbooks and computers Moveable equipment Transportation/Buses
Unlike many types of sales taxes, this specific tax does not tax items that many people think to be essential to families, and especially, senior citizens.
This increased sales tax does not apply to: Unprepared food (groceries) Medicine including prescription drugs and over the counter drugs Cars, trucks, ATV’s, boats, and RVs or mobile homes Farm equipment, parts and farm inputs Services
If it is not currently taxed, it will not be taxed.
Sullivan School District has always valued and maintained each of our schools. With this increased revenue source, we believe that we can make the learning environment in each school better to help improve the quality of education that we provide to our students. The learning environment includes everything from the temperatures in each of the classrooms (boilers and air conditioning units), the electrical wiring and power needed to support teacher instruction, energy efficiency in our buildings (windows and lighting), as well as the safety and security of everyone in each of our schools (security cameras and monitoring software). As noted before, annual maintenance work on building roofs, parking lots, and equipment plays a huge role in costs to the district and takes money away from curriculum and instruction.
This is important because the enacted 2014-2015 State Budget does not look good for our district. Since the 2010-2011 school year, the State has been prorating payments for several line items. Proration occurs when payments to schools are reduced because there is not enough money in the State’s budget to pay what is required according to State statute. With proration set at 89% for General State Aid (our largest source of State revenue), we are facing a projected loss of funds of $378,558 this school year. That brings the total loss since the 2010-2011 school year to nearly $1.4 million. These are funds that will never be recouped from the State. Below is a table showing how the Sullivan School District has been negatively impacted by proration of General State Aid funding:
General State Aide (GSA)
2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 Estimated 2014-2015 Proration % 99.99% 95.04% 89.17% 88.72% 89.00% Loss of Entitlement $4,088.75 $200,263.24 $400,802.79 $410,505.76 $378,558.28
As parents, you might be asked about this sales tax and how this would impact our schools. I want you to have as much information as possible to help you answer those questions. For more information you may visit our website at home.sullivan.k12.il.us and access the Moultrie County One-Cent Sales Tax informational video. Throughout the next three months, I will be sharing more factual information with our parents, teachers and other community members. If you have questions, please contact me.
Brad Tuttle, Superintendent