Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, and you'll be asked to vote on several referendums on the November 8th ballot. Here is one I would like to specifically address:
County Schools Facility Sales Tax
Shall a retailers' occupation tax and a service
occupation tax (commonly referred to as a
"sales tax") be imposed in The County of
Peoria, Illinois, at a rate of ½ % to be used
exclusively for school facility purposes?
Vote Yes or No
The full sample of the Peoria County ballot can be found at this link:
The education industry is strongly lobbying for a YES vote, of course. Images of children sweltering in classrooms & stuffed into trailers like sardines come to mind. Surely you are a heartless monster if you vote No. The reality is that large influxes of wealth into a school district, if not strictly defined, can be more beneficial to contractors and vendors than to students. If student welfare was always the primary concern, wouldn't every classroom in America already be air-conditioned? How many rooms could have been upgraded with even one year of former D150 Superintendent Grenita Lathan's travel expenses?
I voted NO on the school tax referendum, and I still love kids and value education. You can too in good conscience. Here is why:
1. Proponents of the school tax referendum suggest its passage would put a lid on real estate tax increases. What they won't tell you is that the vast majority of Peoria County homeowners have ALREADY BEEN ASSESSED a real estate tax increase for 2016 taxes, payable in 2017. Passing the sales tax referendum would be a double whammy to Peoria taxpayers. Dave Ryan, Peoria County Supervisor of Assessments has estimated that, for example, Dunlap Community Unit School District, will see an approximately 5% increase in real estate tax revenues for the 2017/18 School Year. Perhaps that's why...
2. Dunlap's Board of Education just approved a $2 Million dollar technology initiative. The initiative passed with not a stitch of supporting data provided. In fact, some data suggests harmful consequences of increased technology in the classroom. If a public school district can afford non-essentials, it would be reasonable to conclude they don't need more tax payer money during times of economic stress.
3. There is no doubt that several of Peoria Public School facilities need improvement, but this didn't happen in a vacuum. The district has been financially mismanaged for decades. Going into detail would be a lifes work - but if you're curious, do a google search. Morale appears to be looking up with the hiring of the current Superintendent, but I believe that D150 should exhibit sound management for at least a few years before more taxpayer wealth rains down upon them. Currently taxpayers revenues exceed $14K per student. That should be enough. Let's see some improved results & sound fiscal decisions come out of 150 then we'll talk.
In the 1980's a popular expression was often whispered. "Will the last person leaving Peoria please turn out the lights...". Given the state of our national economy, but more particularly the state of Illinois as well as local bodies of government, if we aren't careful, we might just be whispering it again. Mass exodus out of Illinois will prove far more harmful to our public education & infrastructure than the failure of a sales tax referendum. What good are great roads and schools if no one is left to use them? We the people need to strongly and consistently send the message to duplicitous bureaucracies that we expect them to live within their means, as we are expected as good citizens to live within ours. This means doing things more efficiently with less. So as informed voters, cast your vote, and know that you can vote No on the Sales tax referendums in good conscience.