DECATUR - School districts representing well over the required amount of students have asked for a referendum on the Nov. 2 election ballot to charge a new sales tax to update their buildings.
That was among the correspondence reported Thursday night to the Macon County Board by County Clerk Steve Bean. "Everybody who has students in Macon County, with the exception of Mount Zion, passed a resolution," he said.
Those districts are Argenta-Oreana, Clinton, Decatur, Maroa-Forsyth, Meridian, Sangamon Valley, Warrensburg-Latham, Central A&M, Cerro Gordo, Clinton and Mount Pulaski.
County Board Chairman Jay Dunn, D-Decatur, said a resolution to place the referendum on the ballot will come before the board's Environmental, Education, Health and Welfare Committee on July 15, the board's Finance Committee on Aug. 2 and to the full board Aug. 12.
All the meetings will take place in the fifth-floor board room of the Macon County Office Building, 141 S. Main St.
Auditor Amy Stockwell said after Thursday's board meeting that her reading of the state statute is that county approval at this point simply certifies that districts representing the minimum requirement of at least 51 percent of Macon County's students have requested the referendum. Dunn said county board members could table or vote against the measure, but he doesn't expect that to happen.
A county school facility occupation tax of up to 1 percent would benefit every school district in Macon County proportional to the number of students living in the county from each district. Districts that already have built buildings or otherwise improved them could use revenue from such a tax to abate property taxes to pay for those projects.
During the Republican caucus before Thursday's county board meeting, David Williams of Maroa said Maroa-Forsyth and Warrensburg-Latham districts have made commitments to do just that.
Dave Drobisch of Decatur said one opponent and several supporters of the sales tax have called him, while Kevin Greenfield of Decatur said his experience has been just the opposite - possibly a reflection of the Mount Zion School Board's 4-3 vote against the new tax.
Dunn said the subject was not discussed during the Democratic caucus.