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AFC school buildings in need of repairs

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20th, 2013

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 won’t 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.

Major concerns

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. Matson’s 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 It is outdated and inefficient.”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

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