School district says penny sales tax question should be on April ballot

The Belleville District 118 School Board decided Tuesday that voters should be asked whether to impose a countywide sales tax increase.

Board members passed a resolution that says there should be a question on the ballot in the April election asking residents to vote “yes” or “no” on a 1-cent increase to the sales tax in St. Clair County.

Superintendent Matt Klosterman said it could generate an estimated $2 million every year for District 118. That revenue would be used on school facilities and paying back existing construction and renovation debts, he said.

But similar resolutions would need to be passed by school districts representing more than 50 percent of the county’s student population for the question to be put on the ballot. District 118 represented about 9.3 percent of that population as of June, according to Klosterman.

Most school districts, including District 118, decided against putting the question on the Nov. 8 ballot when they had the chance over the summer. Klosterman said at the time he was worried voters might not be adequately prepared to answer the question in November because of the “enormity of the election.”

According to Klosterman, the benefit of the increase is two-fold in Belleville.

If passed, he said residents from St. Clair County and elsewhere who shopped in the county would be subject to the tax and would be helping to support the upkeep of school buildings with their purchases.

“With the age of our buildings, there’s always some things that we’re needing to do,” he said of how the revenue would benefit District 118. That includes the repair and replacement of roofs, flooring, parking lots, playgrounds and more. “The money could be put toward helping us accomplish some of those things,” Klosterman said.

Because the revenue could be used toward paying back the district’s existing facilities debt, Klosterman said the sales tax increase could also mean property taxes don’t need to be increased to make those payments.

Some things would be exempt from the tax increase, Klosterman said, including cars, trucks, drugs and unprepared food.

The revenue would be divided among schools across St. Clair County based on student population, according to Klosterman.

In other business

The District 118 School Board also approved the following:

▪  Resolution estimating that the board would levy a 4.24 percent increase in taxes in December.

This is the first step toward approving next year’s tax levy, Klosterman said. The board will not officially take action on the levy until next month’s meeting.

▪  Hiring of full-time health aid Dornesha Catchings effective Nov. 16.

Klosterman said Catchings will help support the district’s nurses. Some of the schools don’t have a full-time nurse, so Klosterman said an aid will be able to help out administering medications among other duties when a nurse is not available.

The District 118 School Board meets next at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 20 at 105 West A St. in Belleville.