One-cent sales tax resolution approved by District 117

By Ryne Turke on July 16 at 9:27pm

The sales tax, if passed, would go towards the school district's facilities vision, which focuses on Turner Junior High expansion.

Morgan County voters will be casting their vote on a one-cent sales tax on the November ballot after District 117 board members approved the resolution last night.

The resolution passed unanimously, with revenue from the retail and service occupation tax potentially being used for renovation of Turner Junior High school with an expansion of a sixth grade wing.

District 117 superintendent Steve Ptacek says the board felt a one-cent sales tax was the right move to make because it would help the academic environment for students improve and the community grow in the future.

“The sales we feel is the most fair avenue of funding this project because it will not put all the financial burden on the property tax payers of this community,’ says Ptacek.

“It will be a one-cent sales tax added onto our seven percent sales tax rate in Jacksonville and 6.25 in South Jacksonville. When you compare that to Springfield’s tax rate of eight and a half to nine percent and now even Pike County in Pittsfield up to 7.75 percent we are not going to hurt our sales and drive business away because we are still going to be lower or competitive with surrounding communities.”

Ptacek notes that school districts throughout Morgan County will benefit from the sales tax.

“This is a county wide effort so districts like Mededosia would get approximately another $130-$140 thousand a year towards their operation and maintenance fund,” says Ptacek.

“Even in our situation with the bond sales for Turner we will generate an extra $400-$500 thousand a year for money specifically for school facility purposes. With the decrease in revenues from the state that money is needed for us to maintain our buildings at their current rate, much less see improvement as we go into the future.”

Ptacek says there will be a wide approach in getting information about construction plans and the sales tax out to the community.

“Social media and information sessions that I want to have at the high school where I will do a presentation on our new building program and factual information about the sales tax,” says Ptacek.

“I do know there are some community members that are getting a community group organized and that of course we will help them with the factual information. I’m sure they will also get involved with an informational campaign for people throughout the community.”

In other news at the meeting, District 117 board members renewed their contract as members of the Mississippi Valley Insurance Coop Board of Directors. The district reported a savings of $78,000 for this year’s policy.

Also, three members were appointed to the MISSVIC: Jamie Hadjan as administrator, Cheryl Ballard as the school board member and Dana Kinley as an alternate.

Speaking of Jamie Hadjan, she was also approved as the new board treasurer for District 117.

The board approved two District 117 construction projects. The Turner Junior High roof, which was constructed 45 years ago, will be replaced for a cost of around $35,000. Also, several schools in the district will be receiving much needed asphalt seal coating.

Several important dates were announced for the 2014-2015 District 117 school year. Upcoming dates include registration on August 7, teacher’s institutes on August 14 and 15 and the first day of class on August 18.