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home : local news : local news
November 20, 2018

10/24/2018 2:09:00 PM
Superintendents open to exploring sales tax again
A referendum on the Jasper County ballot may once again revive interest in implimenting a 1-percent sales tax to help schools in Crawford County.

On Nov. 6, Jasper County voters will be asked, "Shall a retailers' occupation tax and a service occupation tax (commonly referred to as a 'sales tax') be imposed in The County of Jasper Illinois, at a rate of 1 percent to be used exclusively for school facility purposes?"

It's similiar to a question put to Crawford County voters in April 2013. It was resoundingly defeated by a vote of 3,344 to 1,310, or 71.85 percent against.

Support for CSFT has continued in other parts of the state and even after the 2013 vote here, discussion of the matter continued to pop up from time to time.

For example, last year another district asked Unit 2 if it would be interested in participating in a meeting to talk about the tax.

"The Unit 2 board's general consensus was that they were willing to participate in a discussion but preferred to wait until the consolidation issue was decided between Palestine and Hutsonville," Unit 2 Superintendent Josh Quick told the Daily News.

"We have not formally revisited the issue since that time but that is not to say that it won't come up at some point, especially if there is interest in the other county districts," Quick added.

"The results of the vote in 2013 were pretty clear how people felt at the time," Oblong Unit 4 Superintendent Jeff Patchett said.

"However, if sentiment has changed and Unit 2 expressed interest, I believe Unit 4 would have interest in supporting it again," he added.

Hutsonville Unit 1 supported efforts to pass the tax here in 2013, Superintendent Julie Kraemer said. Though the school board there has not discussed the matter, she believes the members would still support it.

The tax would add one cent on every dollar spent on items already subject to the 6.25 percent state sales tax. Nothing not already taxed would be added, and some items that are taxed will be exempt.

Goods and services that are not subject to the additional tax include cars, trucks, ATVs, boats and RVs, mobile homes, farm equipment and parts. Drugs and other medical items, such as insulin, syringes, medical appliances, are also exempt.

Also exempt are groceries. Unprepared foods that are to be eaten at home are not subject to the tax, although fast foods and other items a person might buy with groceries - such as toothpaste, trash bags or dish soap - are.

Revenues from the tax can only be used for the construction and maintenance of school facilities. it can not be used for other purposes such as payrolls, transportation or textbooks.

For the matter to be put to a vote in Crawford County again, a referendum would have to be placed on the ballot by Unit 2.

Under state law, the question can only be put on the ballot by the district with the county's largest enrollment. All four county districts would get a share of the revenues if the tax were approved, however.

The shares would be based on enrollment.

Robinson, with a student body of 1,599 as of 2017, would get about $724,000 from a 1-percent sales tax.

Unit 4, with 612 students, would receive about $277,000.

Unit 1, with 345 students, would get about $157,000, and Unit 3, with 303 students, would get about $137,000.

In a recent report to his board, Palestine Unit 3 Superitendent Chris Long pointed out sales tax revenues typically increase up each year. They have remained flat in Crawford County the past two years, however, and are lower than they were in 2011 to 2014.

Statewide, 51 of 103 counties have passed the 1-percent CSFT including Lawrence, Wabash, Edwards, Richland, Cumberland, Coles, Edgar and Douglas in the immediate area. Efingham County voted down CSFT in the spring.

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