DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Vermilion County schools are staying positive after voters rejected a sales tax increase which would have given extra money to schools throughout the county.
53% of voters said “no” to upping the sales tax by one percent. The money would have gone directly to schools to help with things like keeping up buildings, security and lowering property taxes.
Danville Mayor Scott Eisenhauer was against the increase. Now, we know voters were too.
If Danville is taken out of the mix, and only votes from the rest of the county were counted, the numbers show the referendum would have passed, but just barely. It might still find new life down the road.
Bismarck-Henning Superintendent Scott Watson hopes good things come to those who wait.
“It’s not uncommon for those things to fail the first time. Champaign County had to go twice. Coles County had to go three times. We were not shocked by the outcome.”
Vermilion County said “no” to increasing the county sales tax by one percent to help schools. The county clerk can tell you there were plenty of opinions based solely on voter turnout.
“It’s 23.34% in the county. I’m kind of surprised by that and I’m sure the referendum brought a lot of them out because normally we run anywhere from 12 – 15 percent on a primary.”
Mayor Eisenhauer has been vocal about his opinion saying he knows schools need help, but sales tax isn’t the way to go.
“Nine-and-a-quarter percent is just about as high as we can go downstate.”
Danville has one of the highest sales taxes outside of Cook County to help pay for police, fire, streets and parks.
Many counties already use a one-percent sales tax to offset millions lost in state funding over the years. Watson says that gives him hope.
“We still feel the sales tax is the most equitable tax that’s out there.”
He says the superintendents still have to meet and decide if they want to put the referendum on the ballot again, but he wants everyone to remember one thing.
“We had good schools yesterday, when the vote was taking place, and we still have good schools today. So, we’ll see where the future takes us.”
Mayor Eisenhauer says he doesn’t plan to increase the sales tax while he’s in office because he thinks it would send shoppers and businesses out of town. But, the city did recently increase property taxes and fees to help pay for the city’s pension deficit.
Meanwhile, superintendents say the one percent sales tax increase could have helped lower property taxes across the county.