Peoria County Schools Disappointed After Sales Tax Defeat

Published 03/19 2014 06:09PM

Updated 03/19 2014 06:12PM

PEORIA COUNTY - Peoria County’s eighteen school districts faced a setback seeing results from the primary election sales tax proposal.

Voters said “no” to a one percent sales tax increase that would have been used solely for school facility needs; about $18-million a year.

Chad Wagner, superintendent at District 68 is speaking his mind.

“We're disappointed in the result,” he said.

Its money he and other school officials wanted to use to fix their ailing schools. District 150 Spokesman Chris Coplan said the situation is desperate.

“We don't have a rainy day fund, those funds are long depleted,” he said.

They're calling it a "perfect financial storm;" dwindling state aid and insufficient property tax revenues, coupled with more cuts.

‘They're talking about a $967-million cut for general state aid for general K-8 education next year,” Wagner said.

And it’s about to start showing on paper.

“We've maintained a balanced budget over the last three years, this year it doesn't' look like we're going to be able to accomplish that because those funding cuts keep happening,” Coplan said.

The extra cash wasn't slated for lofty projects but "necessities," like fixing cracked walls and missing ceiling tiles. The windows at Von Steuben Middle School to be replaced for safety reasons. Coplan is afraid the school's boiler won’t make it through next winter and the HVAC system in many buildings is due for an upgrade.

He said, for a district already facing budget issues, “to know that we have no funding source for our facilities on top of that is pretty devastating.”

Wagner said the fight isn't over yet.

“I'm not giving up just from one defeat. You know see this as round one. There's more to come.”

Both districts say it’s likely the issue will make its way onto another ballot in the future.

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