St. Clair County voters will be asked to consider two separate questions regarding sales taxes on April 4. One of those two questions is the County School Facilities Sales Tax.
With the exception of a few small grants, school buildings and facilities are 100 percent funded through property taxes. When a significant need arises, such as a roof replacement, a district must pay for it by using reserves (if available), increasing taxes through its levy, or selling bonds. The bond payments are then made through the tax levy, which makes up a homeowner’s property tax bill.
CFST is a sales tax on retail purchases, and is collected by those who visit the county as well as those who reside in it. Items that are not taxed in the County Schools Facilities Tax include medications (prescription and over-the counter), unprepared foods, vehicles, farm equipment, and services. If an item is not taxed today, it would not be included in the CFST.
Funds generated from CFST can be used for long-term school facility repairs and improvements, or to pay off debt and reduce property taxes that would otherwise pay that debt. The funds cannot be used to pay operating costs such as overhead, utilities, supplies or salaries.
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The CFST revenue never passes through the Illinois General Assembly or its state budget process. It is collected county-wide and disseminated by the Regional Office of Education to schools in St. Clair County based on student enrollment counts.
All four of the school districts in O’Fallon-Shiloh have committed to using at least half of the sales tax revenue to retire existing debt and subsequently decrease the burden of property taxes. The remaining funds would be used for property tax avoidance as projects can be completed in a pay-as-you-go manner or bonds can be issued against the future CFST revenue, thereby eliminating the need to request a tax increase to fund said project.
Specifically, District 90 has committed to using $1.2 million in the sales tax revenue to pay off current facilities debt. The remaining $600,000 to $700,000 would be used to improve the security in our buildings with additional security cameras, more secure visitor entryways, card swipe entry technology and upgraded alarm systems. Director of Security Mark Berry conducted a security audit for each building and has a plan that would make the buildings safer and more secure for students and staff.
Check out District 90’s Facebook page to see an interview video with Director Berry. District 90’s Facebook page includes information on this topic and many more. The video is also available on YouTube.