County seeks tax increase for school districts

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EDGAR COUNTY — The future of some schools depends on Election Day results. County leaders are asking voters to approve a one-percent sales tax, but not every school district supports it.

Kansas schools are not campaigning for the sales tax, but it’s because they just had a school referendum two years ago. Part of the agreement, if it passed, was the district wouldn’t ask the community for more money.

Election Day is upon us. County leaders are turning to voters to help schools, but Kansas School District isn’t campaigning for the money.

“Part of the promise then, by the school board was, they would not raise taxes or do anything that would cause taxes to go up during that three-year period.”

They passed a referendum in 2014 which got the district out of the red. Now, leaders are keeping their promise.

“This last year, the budget was in the black. It was good and so we ended up with more money than we spent.”

They’re still going to take the money if it passes; about $50,000, but they won’t ask voters to vote “yes.”

“Our school board is making sure we are not promoting it because we made promises that we intend to keep.”

But, Paris’ District 95 superintendent says they do nee the money and they are campaigning for it.

“Are we going to use bonds to do facility improvements that would eventually go in your property taxes or would we use a sales tax for people who are coming from outside our community into our community to buy things?”

The county is asking for a one-percent sales tax.

“We have classrooms right now that, when it rains, it leaks inside of them. I have computer labs, when it rains too much, there’s water on the floor.”

District 95 would get more than $430,000 a year.

“We have repairs that are going to be made no matter what. It’s how do we want to fund those repairs?”

The money can only be used for things like building repairs and paying off debts. School officials say, if the referendum doesn’t pass, it could mean higher costs to the community.

“We would like to equalize our property taxes so that our property taxes aren’t going up.”

Shiloh and Chrisman also some money. Voters increased the district tax rate in Kansas, from 1.84 to 2.19. The district will levy under this rate in December and collect the revenue in 2017.

Coles County is also asking voters the same question. Revenue from the sales tax could bring in almost $5 million a year. It would be divided between three districts: Mattoon would get $2.5 million; Charleston more than $2 million; Oakland, just under $120,000 a year.

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