Sandwich schools to ask LaSalle shoppers for added tax revenue
By pat Wallis For The Beacon-News January 16, 2013 2:44PM
Updated: February 19, 2013 1:55PM
SANDWICH — The Sandwich School District will be asking the residents and shoppers of LaSalle County to pitch in extra cash toward school buildings.
The School Board voted Tuesday to add a question to the April 9 ballot asking residents of LaSalle County to impose a 1 percent sales tax on all sales throughout the county.
According to a state law passed in 2007, school districts educating at least 51 percent of students in a county can vote to add a sales tax question to ballots. Should voters approve the referendum, all the school districts in the county would then share the sales tax revenue, which can be used only for facility-related expenses such as new buildings, renovations and maintenance. It cannot be used for salaries, overhead, buses, furniture and fixtures, or other operating expenses.
Sandwich Superintendent Rick Schmitt said there are 800 students attending Sandwich Schools who live in the northern part of LaSalle County. Several other school districts in LaSalle County must also ask for the referendum before it can be added to the April ballot.
About a dozen other counties — mostly in western, southern and central Illinois — have levied county school facility taxes. And on Monday, the Oswego School Board announced that its finance committee was looking into the tax to be levied in Kendall County.
If voters approve the sales tax, it would not be applied to groceries, prescription or over-the-counter medications, any vehicle requiring state licensing, farm equipment and parts, or farm inputs.
Schmitt said he had learned that up to 30 percent of the sales tax revenue will come from people who live outside LaSalle County and are tourists or traveling through the area.
If the referendum is approved, the money generated from all towns and areas in LaSalle County will be distributed to the school districts, depending on enrollment numbers.
Staff writer Jenette Sturges
contributed to this story.