With our Magic 8-Ball in hand, there are a few predictions worth pondering after a closer look at by whom and by how much the school construction sales tax questions were rejected April 4 in St. Clair and Madison counties.
You may rely on it that Madison County voters will see the question again. When they were asked six years ago, the proposal failed by 80 percent. This recent effort failed by only 259 votes out of 44,000 cast. Edwardsville area voters favored it even with their own referendum to boost that district’s property tax rate.
Most of St. Clair County said my reply is no on the school sales tax, but two areas supported it.
Dupo area voters showed strong support. Why? That area’s County Board member, June Chartrand, said it is because there isn’t much retail in the area, and the sales tax would have returned revenue to the schools that Dupo-area taxpayers spend elsewhere.
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East St. Louis voters also were in favor, likely for the same reason.
Outlook good that these taxing bodies see how sales-tax supported entities such as the St. Clair County Transit District, the Metro East Parks and Recreation District and the Southwestern Illinois Flood Prevention District Council are getting steady revenue despite all the state’s payment problems and the public rebellion against high property taxes.
Most likely they will ask again later.
Underlying all of this is the absurd taxation and funding system that leaves princes and paupers as neighbors. Cities are funded by mixes of state income, fuel, property and sales taxes. Schools rely on an unreliable state, lean too heavily on property taxes and are denied sales taxes.
There is plenty of money, with Illinoisans paying some of the highest taxes in the nation. There are just too many diversions, subversions and perversions of the revenue streams.
Reducing the fiefdoms in our nation-leading state of 6,963 government layers is an important major step. Until then looking for bulk buying of technology or school lunches and resource sharing such as the bus service being assembled by Belleville High School District 201 are steps in the right direction. So are municipalities pooling resources and bulk buying salt or concrete or sewer services as O’Fallon Mayor-elect Herb Roach proposed.
Besides driving efficiencies that save tax dollars, these ventures teach government units to jointly administer. Could they lead to school or municipal or township mergers?
Signs point to yes.