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Tax Increase Propositions Did Not Fare Well
February 13, 2008

Tax increase propositions did not fare well at all in the Feb. 5 primary election. A preliminary count indicates voters approved just two of 13 education fund tax increase proposals and neither of two proposals to increase operations and maintenance funds. The school districts that won approval for education fund tax increases were McLean County CUSD 5, Normal, and Schiller Park SD 81.

To compare the April election results with previous election dates going back to 1989, click on the following links:

Overall the approval rate for tax increases was just 13 percent, by far the lowest rate seen in any primary election in an even-numbered year in recent memory.

Explanations for this low rate could relate to voter-perceptions about the health of the nation's economy, as many experts now believe the United States is in the midst of an economic recession. Or it could be due to growing dissatisfaction with the level of property taxes already shouldered by homeowners.

Voters did adopt one other tax increase – a countywide sales tax proposition to benefit schools in Williamson County. The sales tax was proposed by the county board under a new state law, and it narrowly won voter approval. Revenue from the new one-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax will benefit all five school districts in the southern Illinois county. The five districts – Johnston City CUSD 1, Marion CUSD 2, Crab Orchard CUSD 3, Marion; Herrin CUSD 4, and Carterville CUSD 5 – will split an estimated $7.5 million each year, with the funds to be used to construct new buildings and pay off related debt.

Success was far more common for bond issues on the February ballot, as 13 of 18 building bond issues were adopted, for a 72 percent passage rate. Winning building bond propositions were adopted in the following districts:

Mundelein Elementary District 75 (two bond issues)
DeKalb CUSD 428
Glen Ellyn CCSD 89
Grant Community High School District 124, Fox Lake
Kaneland CUSD 302, Maple Park
McLean County CUSD 5, Normal
Minooka CCSD 201
Naperville CUSD 203
Rochester CUSD 3A
Rock Island SD 41
Schiller Park SD 81
Wheaton CUSD 200

In addition to these 13 building bond issues, a lone working cash fund proposition was also on the ballot. Voters in Big Hollow SD 38, Ingleside, authorized the issuance of $10 million in working cash fund bonds.

And a lone funding bond issue was also placed on the ballot. Voters in Country Club Hills District 160 approved the issuance of $8 million in bonds. The funds will be earmarked to pay claims against the school district.

In other action, voters approved a school district consolidation between two districts in Livingston County. It was the lone school district consolidation on the ballot. The approved consolidation will form a new unit district by combining all the territory within Cornell Community High School District 70, and Flanagan CUSD 4.

Meanwhile, voters in Nauvoo-Colusa CUSD 325 and Warsaw CUSD 316 overwhelmingly approved a dual deactivation plan. Voter approval was needed to enable Nauvoo-Colusa to send its high school students to Warsaw while Warsaw sends its junior high students to Nauvoo-Colusa beginning next fall. Curriculum enhancements were a key selling point for the dual deactivation plan.

Voters in a school district in portions of Winnebago and Stephenson Counties, Durand CUSD 322, decided in favor of electing school board members at large, without restriction by area of residence within the school district. A similar plan was adopted in Momence CUSD 1, in Kankakee County. Those were the only two such questions on the ballot.

But there were other education-related issues decided. Peoria District 150 voted to return the school board vice president to office. Board Vice President Martha Ross was chosen by 83 percent of voters in a school board election required under Article 33 of the School Code. That was the only such Article 33 election on the ballot this time.

Finally, voters in Warren, Henderson and Mercer counties decided there will be a contested race in November for the area's regional superintendent of schools.

Republican incumbent Jodi Scott and Democrat Bobby J. Pritchett were both on the primary ballot. Each was uncontested in the primary. According to the unofficial totals, Scott collected 1,723 votes in the Republican primary. Pritchett received 1,388 votes in the Democrat primary.

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