Ptacek talks plans for sales tax referendum

By Ryne Turke on November 5, 2014 at 1:15pm

Now that the one-cent sales tax has been approved, Morgan County voters are asking what the next step is.

Numbers from last night’s General Election showed 6,615 voters were in favor of the sales tax, compared to 4,434 voters who voted against the referendum.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek met with the financial officer this morning on how to develop a plan on two of the major issues.

“One is preparation for the bond sale to generate money for the Turner Jr. High project and then the steps we must go through to establish the parameters to put out on bidding for the Turner project,” says Ptacek.

“Those are lengthy activities and we are going to start planning a community engagement night to get feedback from the community on a list of priorities they want us to include in the construction planning. We are going to create a list of options and ask for community input to help us prioritize.”

Ptacek hopes to have community engagement sessions start in January.

The sales tax goes into action on July 1, 2015 and Ptacek plans for revenue to start coming in during October of next year.

“We will put into our budget next year a monthly allotment,” says Ptacek.

“I will prepare to but in an extra $250,000 to $300,000 for our operations maintenance funds. The rest of that plan is to put that money into a bond for the Turner project.”

According to Ptacek, there is currently no time frame on when the school district will try and float bonds.

Money generated for the sales tax will be used to improve the buildings in District 117, most notably Turner Jr. High. Ptacek is optimistic that groundbreaking at the junior high could take place over the summer.

“I understand that is probably an unrealistic goal,” says Ptacek.

“We will probably start seeing some activity at Turner in the next school year. Hopefully not next summer, but the summer after, there will be major work being done on the Turner project.”

Ptacek says it will take time to make repairs to other buildings in the school district too.

“The sales tax will generate a tremendous amount of money, but isn’t going to be an immediate overnight influx of money to allow us to take care of all of our immediate needs,” says Ptacek.

“The heating system at Lincoln is still needing a $900,000 improvement, so we are going to have to plan on how to use those funds most efficiently, to make the buildings better for our kids.”

Based on historical sales information from the state of Illinois, $2.8 million a year will be generated by the one-cent sales tax in Morgan County.

District 117, which has about 75 percent of the student population in Morgan County, will receive an estimated $2.2 million a year.

Other school districts receiving money include Franklin getting an estimated $188,000, Triopia receiving $150,000, Waverly expected to get $142,000 and Meredosia-Chambersburg receiving $136,000.