Frequently Asked Questions:
Why did Madison County school boards adopt a resolution to put the County Schools Facilities Tax on the March 20th ballot?
Most of the Boards of Education in Madison County wanted to give voters the opportunity to decide if a one cent sales tax should be imposed exclusively to pay for school facility purposes. The sales tax is a state approved alternative method to pay for school facilities instead of relying heavily on local property taxes.. Therefore, new revenue would allow Madison County schools to break the grip of property taxes on local school finances. It is estimated that 30% of sales tax is generated by non-county residents.
Why would individuals who pay property taxes in Madison County be interested in the County Schools Facilities Sales Tax?
Property owners bear the heaviest burden of paying for school facility maintenance, renovations, construction, and improvements. Currently, school districts must issue debt to pay for larger school facility needs which is funded through property taxes. The sales tax is alternative way to “share” the cost with visitors shopping and staying in Madison County, who will contribute an estimated 30% of annual CSFT revenue.
How will my property tax be affected?
There is a lot of misinformation and inaccurate statements that the CSFT will raise your property taxes. The truth is that the CSFT and property tax relief is a package deal. It is designed to lower property taxes and reduce the property tax burden in Madison County.
In 2014 the Charleston school board in Coles County promised to pay off (retire) the Health/Life Safety bonds. They accomplished this during the 2014-2015 school year which resulted in the removal of the $1.03 bond/interest levy. 2015 property taxes went down $343 on a $100,000 home in Charleston because the school district paid its outstanding debt.
The school districts in Madison County can use the same strategy with money from the County School Facilities Sales Tax to pay off bonds relieving the burden from property taxes, and thus lowering property tax rates. For example, Triad CUSD2 has committed to using 50% of their revenue from this tax to reduce property tax for constituents. This will amount to an estimated rate decrease of 23 cents, which corresponds to a tax cut of $77 per $100,000 of property value or a potential savings of:
- $77 per year for a $100,000 home
- $116 per year for a $150,000 home
- $154 per year for a $200,000 home
- $193 per year for a $250,000 home
What is the difference between paying for schools through property taxes or paying for them through sales tax revenues? Schools are still funded through taxes. Why would I support a new tax?
The CSFT is a fair deal for taxpayers because it is collected from all consumers, rather than just property owners. Home values rise and fall, subjecting local school districts to unfair budget turmoil. The 1% sales tax is spread over a much larger number of people including those who pass through the county, which proportionately decreases any impact on the local consumer. Also, depending on home values, what the average person spends in sales taxes on an annual basis is usually far less than their property taxes. The CSFT funding method will reduce the need for the school districts to rely heavily on the property taxes for school facilities. We must break the grip property taxes hold over local school finances. Vote YES on the CSFT to retake local control from Springfield and property taxes at the same time!
I’ve heard that once the 1% sales tax is passed, our school districts can have Obligation Bonds that will grant them access to increase my property tax.
If the 1% sales tax is approved, there will be virtually no need to issue bonds that are paid by property taxes. The sales tax is estimated to generate almost $23 MILLION in revenue for our school facility projects. This eliminates the need for bond financing. For example, a $500,000 health life safety project to replace the HVAC system at any Madison County District would be funded by the sales tax instead of property tax.
How many counties in Illinois have passed the CSFT?
Currently, there are 49 counties that have approved the CSFT in the State of Illinois. Most recently, nearby Macoupin, Bond, Monroe, and Jersey counties have approved the county-wide sales tax. In the November 2016 election, eight counties had CSFT on the ballot, and all eight counties passed the measure.
What items would be taxed?
Items taxed include “general merchandise” as defined by Illinois Department of Revenue. For a definition of general merchandise, click here .
Are services taxed?
Services are not taxed. Services include anything that is not tangible such as labor to repair something, dry cleaning, cleaning services, nail and hair salons, etc.
What items would not be taxed?
The following items would NOT be taxed:
- Cars, trucks, ATVs
- Boats & RVs
- Mobile homes
- Unprepared food (groceries)
- Medications, drugs (Including over-the-counter and vitamins)
- Farm equipment and parts; farm inputs; seed
Because the sales tax is restricted to school facilities, what can the revenue be used for?
- Additions and renovations
- Security, entrances, safety, disabled access
- General maintenance
- Fire prevention and life safety as required by law
- Energy efficiency (HVAC, windows, etc.)
- Parking lots
- Roof repairs and replacement
- Pay off existing debt and lower property tax rates
Since the sales tax is restricted, what can it NOT be used for?
The sales tax revenue can only be used for facilities. Revenue generated from the sales tax cannot be used for instructional costs (salaries), textbooks, buses, detached furniture and fixtures, computers, movable equipment, and operating costs such as utility bills.
What facility needs have been identified for our schools in Madison County, and would the new sales tax revenue completely pay for these needs?
Most of the school districts in Madison County have identified priority needs that would be funded through the CSFT. Over the past several years, the school districts have deferred many needed projects due to budget constraints. These are not frivolous “wants” but desperate needs.Click here to see more about what each district plans to do with the revenue from the CSFT.
Is it required to spend the sales tax revenue for facilities each year?
No. A school district may choose to save the sales tax revenue for a larger project.
I don’t have children attending Madison County schools anymore. Why should I support this sales tax increase?
Whether you are a senior citizen, a limited-income family, or have no affiliation to our school districts, all homeowners pay property taxes which is the primary funding source for the community’s public education. Anyone who pays property taxes in Madison County will reap the benefits of the shared sales tax, for other people living outside of Madison County are contributing toward public school facilities.
How will this impact our local economy?
Investing in school improvements and construction in Madison County has the potential to boost our local economy. Many projects funded by this sales tax will put people to work across the county. Excellent school systems with quality facilities and learning environments are a key factor in attracting families to live within our county.
- School facilities: This dedicated revenue source will keep schools and classrooms maintained for safety, security, and sustainability.
- Jobs and economic growth: Many projects funded by the sales tax will put local people to work and support local businesses throughout Madison County.
- Local control of funds: Every school district will control how it uses this tax revenue through the elected school board members who represent each school community.
- Shift away from property taxes: A sales tax represents a shift away from property taxes. School districts would become less reliant on property taxes with options to pay off existing bonds or avoid new property taxes.
- Funding from outside our county: Visitors to Madison County will support schools with their spending. An estimated 30-40% of sales tax revenue comes from non-residents shopping, dining, and staying in Madison County.
- Quality of life: Schools play an important role in attracting families to settle in our communities. Attracting new families and retaining our current residents help to ensure a positive future across Madison County.
How do school facilities improve the quality of education in our schools?
The revenue provided by the sales tax will mean an improved learning environment including an emphasis on safety and security for students across the county. Buildings will be maintained to increase their future years of service to our community. This revenue will allow Madison County school districts to provide the facilities necessary to support a 21st century education, which is critical to ensuring that our students have the tools they need to compete in a changing economy.
Who should I contact if I have questions or want more information?
You can contact Citizens for Madison County Schools by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting your local school district administrative office.