The Vandalia School Board held a special meeting on Thursday evening to discuss a possible county school facilities sales tax that will be on the upcoming April election ballot. Tom Crabtree of Stifel was on hand to give a presentation to the school board as well as community members who were invited to attend the discussion on the sales tax following the presentation. Crabtree gave a brief history of the tax which was created under a law that went into effect in October of 2007 and allows county voters to approve a sales tax to fund school facility costs in increments of one-quarter of a percent not to exceed 1%. Currently, 54 of Illinois’ counties have a county school facilities tax including Bond, Montgomery, Shelby and Christian counties. Crabtree also explained that everything in the municipal and county sales tax base is included in the tax base for the county school facility tax with the exception of cars, trucks, ATVS, boats, RVs, mobile homes, unprepared foods such as groceries, drugs, farm equipment and parts and farm inputs which would not be taxed. Services are not taxed and items that are currently not taxed now, would not be taxed under a county schools facility tax. During his presentation, Crabtree explained that having a county schools facility tax can be used to decrease property taxes in two ways, by either abating or decreasing existing property taxes by using funds from the sales tax to pay off outstanding building bonds or by avoiding levying property taxes by using funds from a sales tax to pay for projects that would normally be funded by property taxes. If a county school facility tax is put in place, Crabtree says the tax is divided equally on a per pupil basis across all the county schools. In order to put the question of the tax on the ballot, school boards that represent 50% of student enrollment in the county must pass resolutions and the Brownstown, St. Elmo, Ramsey, Vandalia and South Central school districts have all passed those resolutions at this time. Following Crabtree’s presentation, Vandalia Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Garrison and the Vandalia School Board held discussion with community members on the tax. We will have more from the special meeting coming up tomorrow on Newscenter.