What drove some voters to defeat school facilities sales tax?

By WEEK Producer

April 11, 2013 Updated Apr 11, 2013 at 6:48 PM CDT

MORTON, Ill. -- A one-percent sales tax that would have helped fund schools was voted down Tuesday in Tazewell and Woodford Counties.

One reason voters said no to the tax is mistrust of Springfield.

Morton School District 709 superintendent Dr. Lindsey Hall wasn't surprised this week when Tazewell County voters rejected the sales tax that would have funded school building renovations and improvements.

"The county schools facilities sales tax represented a shift away from property taxes as far as funding schools," said Hall. "We were excited about the possibility of having that source of revenue but it just wasn't the right time for our voters to go to the polls and vote yes on that."

The measure would have provided Morton schools an additional $1.6 to $1.7 million dollars per year. And while a similar measure passed in Livingston County it also failed in Woodford County.

The superintendent of Eureka School District 140 says some people he spoke with told him they voted down the tax because they don't trust the state to send the money back to their school district.

"With sales tax it goes to the Department of Revenue and then gets peeled off and would be sent back to the county through the regional superintendent," said Bob Gold. "But the perception of Springfield is not good. They were afraid the money wasn't going to get back."

Gold says Eureka is in a better position than many school districts because they don't have any debt.

But both there and in Morton some facilities are older and need attention. There's also state-mandated work related to safety that must be performed. Which means with the sales tax rejected some projects will have to be set aside.

"We'll just delay some of the work that needs to be done. We'll prioritize what has to be done," Hall said.

"We haven't made any changes in our plans for the future," explained Gold, "its just that the time-line might change now."

But by how much remains to be seen.