McLean County schools expected to propose sales tax increase

By WEEK Producer

November 14, 2013 Updated Nov 14, 2013 at 7:52 PM CDT

McLEAN COUNTY, Ill. -- District 87 superintendent Dr. Barry Reilly is confident the school board will move to put a one-percent county sales tax increase referendum on the March 18th ballot.

But a proposal isn't entirely in his district's control.

"This only goes on the ballot if the Unit 5 school board passes it because they have more than half of the kids in the county," explained Reilly.

But Reilly says he expects Unit 5 to vote in favor of the increase too.

Both school districts are facing expensive maintenance projects to existing facilities - things like replacing roofs and carpeting, and making improvements to electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling systems.

"Its amazing how much a new roof costs," said Reilly. "You look at what we estimate Bloomington High School's new roof to cost, we're talking about 3 1/2 to 4-million dollars."

A one-percent increase in the McLean County sales tax would mean roughly $4-million for District 87 and about $9-million for Unit 5. Other public school districts in McLean County would also receive a proportional share of the tax revenue.

Reilly believes tax payers will understand the need for the renovations and appreciate the direction being taken to fund them.

"There's great burden on property tax payers and we hear that a great deal. The sales tax provides an option to shift some of that cost from the property tax payer to sales taxes," Reilly said.

Both school boards will decide whether to put the measure on the ballot when they meet December 11th.