ASHTON On Saturday, March 16, AFC superintendent John Zick outlined the information regarding the county facilities sales tax proposal, at an open house held at the AFC High School. The propsal will be on the April 9 ballot.
The proposal, if passed, would create an alternative source of revenue for school districts county wide which would not rely on property taxes. An estimated $200,000 per year would be directed to the AFC Schools. An estimated $60,000 of that would come from people from outside of Lee County that are spending money in the county. The revenues are distributed based on the percentage of student population. AFC has approximately 10-11 percent of the Lee County students population.
What wont be taxed
The proposal would apply a one percent sales tax increase on purchases made in the county with the exception of:
Cars, trucks, ATVs, boats, RVs and mobile homes
Medicine and drugs, including over the counter and vitamins
Farm equipment, parts and farm inputs
Unprepared food groceries
What money is used for
The sales tax can only be used on bricks and mortar of the school. The three most important to the AFC schools would be:
Meeting health-life safety needs
Making our facilities energy efficient
Much needed roof repairs
The revenue from this tax cannot be used for salaries and overhead costs, textbooks, buses, computers, moveable equipment, operating costs, instructional cost or furniture.
Recently the board hired an architect to inspect the AFC buildings and grounds to provide the board with estimated costs for recommended structure and infrastructure repairs. The report totaled more than $7 million in renovations.
The top concerns of the board include:
New roofing at the middle school estimated cost $900,000 to $1.2 million
A new boiler system at the middle school estimated cost, just over $1 million
New windows and wall systems at the middle school and windows at the high school. Total estimated cost, just over $1million
Replacement of the electrical wiring at the middle school, estimated cost $500,000
If you visit Mrs. Matsons classroom in the middle school., she can show you where the snow sifts in through the wall when it is snowing outside, said Zick. The boiler in the middle school is nearly 60 years old. It is outdated and inefficient.
In 2014, the AFC Middle School and the AFC High School must undergo the state required 10-Year Health-Life Safety Inspection. This is a thorough inspection conducted by a state-approved architect. Any violations cited from the inspection are given a priority code and recommendations to correct. Priority codes marked urgent require correction within one year. Violations labeled as required must be corrected within five years. If there are substantial, urgent and required findings noted and the sales tax increase fails, funding will most likely have to come from increased property taxes.
The school districts have a few options on how to use sales taxes:
They can choose a pay as you go on capital projects
They could choose to issue new bonds for current capital needs
They could retire existing debt that was used for capital purpose
Or they could do any combination of these options.
Current sales taxes in surrounding areas:
Aurora 8.25 percent
Chicago 9.25 percent
Dixon 6.75 percent
Huntley 7 percent
Moline 7.5 percent
Rochelle 7 percent
Rockford 8.25 percent
Schaumburg 9 percent
Sterling 6.75 percent
Sycamore 8 percent
Another open house will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 23 at the AFC Middle School in Franklin Grove. Board members invite and encourage you to attend to see where the revenue from this sales tax would be utilized in our school buildings. For more information you can visit the AFC website at www.afcschools.net. If you are unable to attend and have questions, please contact either John Zick at 815-453-7461 or any of these board members:
Bob Colwell: 815-456-2272 or 815-994-3886
Mike Gittleson: 815-453-2471 or 815-994-3886
Eric Grover: 815-732-7349 or 815-757-1576
Cindy Knight: 815-456-2402 or 815-751-0979
Dave Meurer: 815-453- 7329 or 815-739-2766
Mark Meurer: 815-453-2257 or 815-973-5576
Jodi Thompson: 815-456-2328 or 815-677-7987