Dear Jersey 100 Community Stakeholder:
I hope this communication finds you well. Its purpose is to provide you with vital information necessary to make an educated decision about the County School Facility Sales Tax (CSFST) that will appear on the April 7, 2015 ballot. I strongly urge you to do your own research so you have a solid understanding of the sales tax and how it can help your community. School districts across the state of Illinois are experiencing financial challenges. Jersey 100 is no different. With a significant spending deficit largely due to a 27% loss of state revenue and 11% of federal, a three-year budget deficit plan was presented at the January 2014 Board of Education meeting that included a resolution for 3.2 million in working cash to balance the budget. Included in this plan was a 1.4 million decrease in expenditures. In March 2014 a resolution for a Reduction in Force occurred affecting 12 staff members. Another 12 retired, which resulted in a loss of 24 staff members for the 2014-2015 school year. Class sizes are large due to the loss of personnel and program cuts. While the 1.4 million decrease in expenditures has occurred and can be seen in the 2014-2015 budget, many challenges remain. The third phase of Illini’s Health/Life/Safety project is scheduled for the summer of 2015. This is a state-mandated project that must be completed. Should the CSFST receive the majority of the Jersey County voter population, such improvements could be made without burdening you – the property owner. The work would be funded by all consumers: Those who fill up their tanks or stop by to grab a soda: one cent for every dollar spent…
- With CSFST, all necessary Jersey 100 facility improvements could be completed without burdening property owners: asbestos abatement throughout and fencing removal in front of West Elementary; replacement of West Elementary doors/windows; resolution of water issues at Illini and West Elementary; updated security systems in all buildings; roofing repairs; replacement of worn carpeting throughout district facilities with commercial grade flooring; continued maintenance to parking lots and playgrounds; replacement of baseball bleachers and improvements to the all-weather track at the sports complex and JCHS.
- With CSFST, ALL consumers, those who visit Jersey County for Jersey 100 activities and entertainment and those who purchase retail items (excluding autos, groceries, medicine [prescriptions and over the counter drugs], farm equipment and inputs, and anything else that isn’t currently taxed) will help participate in funding school facility needs instead of the burden being the property owners’ responsibility.
- With CSFST, the District would not have to levy for Health/Life/Safety, which generally generates approximately $150,000.
- With CSFST, the District’s Debt Service levy would be lowered each year that a percentage of sales tax revenue is applied toward debt.
It is also important to know that NO salaries, education resources, transportation costs, operational expenditures are paid through this fund. CSFST can ONLY be used for school facility purposes.
On Thursday, March 19, 2015, the Board of Education approved allocation of 45% of all CSFST revenue to be used to pay towards debt. Based on current data, the District could receive approximately $1,098,000 in revenue for facility improvements if Jersey County voters approve the CSFST. Approximately $500,000 would be used toward building bond debt.
I appreciate the many county stakeholders who have contacted me, requesting information on the CSFST. I only ask those of you who are unsure about the CSFST to do your research. The following sites provide information that can help you in making an educated decision on April 7. Always feel free to contact me.
Thank you for taking time out to become educated on the issues affecting Jersey 100 and all stakeholders. If you have any questions regarding CSFST or the PTELL referendum, please do not hesitate to contact me. As always, I appreciate having the opportunity to serve the entire Jersey 100 community.
Dr. Lori Franke-Hopkins
Jersey CUSD No. 100 Superintendent