The sales tax debate is roaring on in Bloomington-Normal, and several groups hope to gain revenue from a proposed tax increase. Of those that have voiced the need for taxpayer help, Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said during WGLT's Sound Ideas that schools should be the first priority.
"Schools of course are facing all kinds of problems," he says. "They've got pension problems, they've got budget cuts from the federal government and the state, and they're stuck. Many of them have limits on property taxes. They may have even hit the limits at this point. Clearly, schools have a special need."
School districts have sought revenue through property taxes in the past, but Renner says they pose too many problems.
"They're very regressive, they're terrible to administer, and the inequalities," he says. "Unless we had a financial meltdown, I don't want to raise property taxes."
Connect Transit has asked for tax revenue to boost the bus system, while the YMCA and Prairie Cities Soccer League are also seeking funds. The Y hopes to relocate, and federal officials are forcing the soccer league to move their field so it doesn't interfere with airport operations. Renner says he can get behind the idea of transit funding. But, he says he has a hard time supporting the Y's proposal because it could move the building south of downtown.
Renner says he doesn't see sales taxes going up any time soon. He says he wants to see an advisory referendum for the options on the table.
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