Vandalia School Board members and several members of the community were on hand for a special meeting last week which centered around discussing the County Schools Facility Tax that will be voted on by county voters in the April election. The tax is currently in place in 54 of Illinois’ 102 counties and is used for things such as building new school facilities, adding on to or renovating existing facilities, upgrading technology infrastructure, roof repairs, security and safety upgrades as well as refunding bonds or abating or lowering property taxes levied to pay bonds issued for capital purposes. During the meeting, Vandalia Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Garrison explained that it would be up to each school district to decide how to use funds that would come from the tax should it pass, but for Vandalia School District purposes, it would be used to abate property taxes levied as well as paying for work to the district’s buildings. And as a show of good faith to the taxpayers, Garrison explained that the district could move forward this year with approving a lower tax levy which would go ahead and save taxpayers on next year’s property tax bills as well as in the years following if the school facility tax is passed.
Tom Crabtree from Stifel was on hand for the meeting and presented that based on the 2017 District Total EAV, the per pupil amount to be paid out to county school should the tax pass is $471 per student. And Crabtree says anywhere from 10-20% of the tax money would come from people who live outside of Fayette County and are just passing through the county.
One question brought up during discussion at the meeting was past issues with money going through the state and not being allocated properly, but Crabtree presented the flow of the sales tax money which would go to the Illinois Department of Revenue which would then go the Regional Office of Education who would distribute the money to the school districts. The money would not go through the General Assembly budget process and the funds would not be able to be cut in any way. Following the election timeline, if the measure should pass in April, the sales tax would go into effect on July 1, 2019 and school districts in the county would be able to begin receiving funds as soon as October 1, 2019.