La SalleCountyvoters will be asked once again to approve a 1 cent sales tax hike for schools to use on strictly construction projects.
La Salle County Regional Office of Education superintendent Chris Dvorak said he has more than enough resolutions passed by area school districts to place the issue back on the April 9 ballot.
“I think we’re up to 68 percent (of the public school student population in La Salle County) so I could turn it in right now, but I’ll wait until the end of the week to give schools some more time if they need it,” Dvorak said.
In November, the exact same question failed at the ballot box by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. That 8 percent difference equated to exactly 3,600 votes, a margin local school officials believe can be overcome.
If passed, school districts would be limited to using the new revenue for infrastructure projects and to pay off existing school bonds.
But not everyone is convinced schools need the added revenue.
One online group called “Vote NO on La Salle County Sales Tax” on Facebook already has begun to issue statements against the second sales tax initiative.
The page has received hundreds of views and dozens of comments from people pledging to vote against the tax hike. Streator resident William Phelan, who is running for a seat on Streator City Council, created the page.
Phelan recently posted that groups steering the sales tax ballot drive may try to mislead voters by calling it the “One Cent Sales Initiative” to keep the word “tax” out of the title.
“There is a fair amount of support for this tax in Streator in part because the elementary district is in horrendous financial shape,” Phelan wrote. “The district wants to pass this tax, but even if it does, and even if it had passed last fall, the district has been so irresponsible with its money and contracts that it might be forced to cut all extracurriculars, band, art, athletics, and more. This tax cannot stop that. That is not my opinion. That is straight from the mouth of the superintendent who favors this tax.
“Too many schools have been unwilling to make the tough financial decisions that must be made in these economic times,” Phelan continued. “It is irresponsible to ask for more money when they have proven they can't properly allocate what they already have. It would be a drag on our economy and, with history as our indicator, it would lead to further financial mismanagement.”
Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 223-3206 Ext. 132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.