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Voters reject proposed countywide sales tax increases for schools

Belleville News Democrat

Wednesday, April 5, 2017  |  Article  |  By Lexi Cortes

Metro East (65) , Taxes, sales (88)
According to unofficial election results, voters in both St. Clair and Madison counties rejected the proposed sales tax increases for schools on Tuesday.

The 1-cent sales tax increases would have generated new revenue for schools to use toward their facilities or debt from previous work.

This is the second time Madison County voters have rejected the tax referendum. In 2011, the proposal failed by a more than 4-to-1 margin. This time around, it was a difference of just 259 votes with all precincts reporting Tuesday night.

St. Clair County voters saw the school facilities tax proposal for the first time on Tuesday’s ballot. It failed by more than 5,000 votes.

But in East St. Louis, there was a difference of just five votes: with 2,234 against the increase in St. Clair County and 2,239 in favor.

Belleville District 201 planned to use most the new revenue it would have received from the proposed tax increase toward tax abatement. The district would have used money from the sales tax to pay its debt rather than tapping into property taxes.

Superintendent Jeff Doiser said Tuesday night the county didn’t have the result he was looking for.

“I’m disappointed, but I understand this has been a bad time to talk about sales tax,” he said. “I think that we have to just continue to look for ways to make the most efficient use of the funds we have.”

The preventative maintenance program that the district was planning to implement likely won’t have funding now, Doiser said.

“We’ll have to address those issues as they come up,” Dosier said. “Now, some of our maintenance might be more reactionary than preventative.”

Also on Tuesday’s ballot in St. Clair County was a proposed sales tax increase for public safety purposes, which failed, too.

The sales tax rates on general merchandise in St. Clair County currently range from 6.6 to 9.85 percent. In the southern areas of Madison County, the range is 6.6 to 9.35 percent.

Doiser said it was too early to think about St. Clair County schools trying again to get the school facilities tax, which has been passed in 47 counties around the state.

Here are the unofficial election results

Madison County/With all precincts reporting:

▪  Yes: 21,846 votes

▪  No   22,105 votes

St. Clair County/With all precincts reporting:

▪  Yes: 18,616 votes

▪  No   23,999 votes