Schools Make A Case For The Sales Tax Increase

Published 03/17 2014 06:00PM

Updated 03/17 2014 06:10PM

BARTONVILLE – On March 18, Peoria County residents will vote on a one percent sales tax increase to benefit schools and two local superintendents are making a case for a “yes” vote.

"I think it's a real tough economic environment to go asking for an increase in any tax,” said Allan Gresham, Superintendent at Limestone Community High School. “But as a county our estimates are that it will bring in $18-million annually."

Gresham said some of that money could go a long way. The auditorium seating, for example is desperate for an upgrade.

"There's broken seats throughout and they're quality furniture, but the problem is when it comes time to replace parts you just can't get parts to them anymore," Gresham said.

Then there are two ghost seats, empty spaces in the second row.

"We removed them and we will use the good parts of them to try to fix other chairs as they fail."

If approved, the extra one percent would be shared between all Peoria County schools. Limestone stands to gain $700,000 a year; money that could replace the school’s 1960s boiler.

"This is something we'd like to get replaced as it is out of its service life before it goes down in the middle of a winter sometime," he said.

Down the street at Oak Grove Elementary, Superintendent Chad Wagner points out changes he’d like to make.

"You can see like right back there where missing the ceiling tile because we had to put in cameras," Wagner said.

The school is also full of cracked walls, so many stair cases, the school isn't handicap accessible.

“It’s got the rails that don't really scream "child safety,"” Wagner said.

With its share of the revenue, about $230,000 a year, Oak Grove could expand and house all of its students on one floor. Wagner said the difference this tax increase would make is unlike anything else.

"Without it I can't think of a whole lot of other ways that $18-million could get brought into our county."

About thirty cents out of every dollar from this increase would come from visitors. Schools say it's a fair way to pay for maintenance and construction without raising property taxes.

Peoria County Schools have all been posting information and pictures of projects they’d like to pursue on the Facebook page, Peoria County Schools.

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