Dist. 101 still gathering info about sales tax proposal

Superintendent Halloran highlights possible benefits to high school

Published: Thursday, July 11, 2013 8:20 a.m. CDT

The Morris Community High School District 101 board discussed the proposed Grundy County Schools Facility Sales Tax and the goal to continue gathering and spreading information.

The board met Monday, at which time Superintendent Dr. Pat Halloran highlighted some of the possible benefits to Morris High if the tax were to pass.

The sales tax could be an alternate funding source for school districts, supplying some property tax relief, said Halloran. People from outside of the county would be contributing toward this tax when they stop for gas, eat at a restaurant or purchase retail items.

School districts are in the preliminary stages of looking into the school facility tax. The tax could be a 1-percent sales tax increase at the maximum, or it could be in quarter-percent increments, and would have to be approved by the taxpayers through a referendum on an election ballot.

The sales tax money could only be used for school facilities, such as a new building, building improvements, bond payments for buildings or parking lot work. It cannot be used for salaries, textbooks or other movable equipment or operations.

The proposed sales tax increase can only get on the ballot if school districts’ boards of education representing at least 50 percent of the county’s population approve a resolution to request the sales tax increase, said Halloran.

If the boards approve, it could be on the March 2014 ballot.

For Morris High, the sales tax increase could generate $1.25 million a year, he said. The amount of money a district receives depends on the amount of students it has.

Projects Morris could use the money for include new science labs, industrial technology renovations, elevator installation, stadium improvements, debt reduction and other upgrades.

One of the cons being brought up is the potential for municipalities to lose point-of-sale business. With the increase in sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 7.25 percent, some of these businesses could leave for an area with a lower tax rate.

After having a discussion with the Grundy Economic Development Council and the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce and Industry, they have decided to host an open forum, said Missy Durkin of the GEDC.

The GEDC and chamber are working to get the experts from both sides of the tax at the forum and will set a date then, said Caroline Portlock, chamber executive director.

Neither the GEDC or the chamber are in support of the tax nor against the tax at this time.

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