Originally Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2014, 11:55 pm
Last Updated: March 06, 2014, 1:21 pm
Silvis School Board promises to forgo part of property levy if sales tax referendum passes
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By Anthony Watt, firstname.lastname@example.org
SILVIS -- The school board made a proclamation Wednesday that the district would no longer ask for part of the property tax levy if a sales tax referendum passes during the March elections.
Rock Island County's school districts are supporting a local option sales tax that will appear on the March ballot. If approved, the revenue the new tax generates would be used by schools for facilities projects and related expenses. The revenue cannot be spent on other needs such as salaries, textbooks or supplies.
If it is approved, the sales tax would take effect July 1, and schools could start seeing revenue by October, with districts receiving a percentage of the sales tax revenue based on enrollment.
The portion of the property tax levy to be cut would be for life and safety -- about a nickel per every $100 -- which normally is used for capital projects. The other districts also are expected to forgo this portion of the levy should the sales tax pass. The vote Wednesday was unanimous.
There are some projects the sales tax money could be used on -- tuck pointing, more event parking and more bleachers, the district also plans to use between $125,000 and $175,000 on bond payments in lieu of property taxes, superintendent Ray Bergles said.
Annually, the Silvis district gets about $25,000 from life safety taxes, Mr. Bergles said. The sales tax is expected to generate $300,000 for the district annually.
The board also selected members for the committee, which will work on a consolidation proposal that could see the merger of East Moline, Silvis, Colona and United Township school districts.
Called a committee of 10, for the number of members, the group will create a ballot question on consolidation for submission to the Rock Island County Regional Office of Education.
If approved locally, the question would be forwarded to the Illinois State Board of Education, which would authorize the districts to put the merger on ballots for district residents.
That vote could come in the Nov. 4 elections.
The discussion on merger has been ongoing for months, and is focused on United Township and its feeder elementary districts. The Hampton District chose not to participate at the beginning of the talks; Carbon Cliff-Barstow's board voted last year to discontinue talks.
Silvis School Board President Kevin Rossmiller appointed himself and Melissa Lear to be the Silvis members of the committee, and Dan Jecks as the alternate for the delegation.
Colona selected its representatives earlier this month.
Information on the other districts and whether they had picked members was not available Wednesday night, but Mr. Bergles said East Moline and United Township would each pick three members.
Seven of the 10 members must agree on things in the committee, he said.
There also was a presentation on the budget at Wednesday's meeting covering where the budget for the 2013-14 year stands and what is expected for the 2014-15 year at the moment.
Initially, the district was expecting a deficit of about $560,000 in the education fund for this fiscal year, but Wednesday, Mr. Bergles said it would be closer to $280,000 based on updated data. The gap will be filled with money from the $3.5 million reserve fund.
The 2014-15 school year is expected to have $4.4 million in revenue and $5.2 million in expenditures, leaving the district about $770,000 in the red, Mr. Bergles said.
The budget process for the coming year still is in its early stages, and the school board will soon be addressing potential cost-saving measures, he said.
The board also voted unanimously to transfer Gauley Athletic Field to the city of Silvis.
Board members voted in December to sell Gauley, across from George O. Barr Elementary School, to Silvis for $10.
An official closing still must happen, and there is paperwork to finish before the transfer is final, Mr. Bergles said Wednesday night.