A pro-sales tax referendum community group has kicked off its public education campaign at the century old Washington Elementary school in Bloomington. The setting is supposed to highlight the need for new facilities. The proposed 1% sales tax would raise an estimated $18 million per year for all McLean County school districts. Opponents say they worry property taxes will not go down in compensation. Pro-referendum forces note property tax rates for facilities automatically go down when construction bonds are paid off.
Tim Norman, the head of the S-T-L business group says the proposal is pro-business. Norman says he recruits I-T workers and most of them ask about school quality before agreeing to live in the Bloomington Normal area.
Former Illinois State University President Al Bowman is also speaking for the referendum saying after years of state cuts, the measure will provide some relief to schools. Opponents of the measure say they do not want a permanent tax. But, Bowman says schools have suffered enough cuts to state funding over the years to make that an unjustified argument.
Downs area farmer Carl Neubauer says for too long property owners have carried too much of the burden of local school financing and a broader base would be welcome.
Neubauer is also the head of the Tri-Valley School Board. He says more than a third of the estimated revenue would also come from people who live outside McLean County as they pass through or come to shop.
Supporters of the question on the March 18th ballot also say the state and local tax burden in Illinois is close to the national average and imposing a consumption tax would in McLean County would not appreciably change that.
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