Possible one percent sales tax increase discussed
Depending on which municipality you're in determines how much sales tax you pay. For example, a one percent sales tax increase in Springfield would mean adjusting the rate to a 9.5 percent sales tax, almost as high as the rate in Chicago.
The current sales tax rate in Springfield combines the 6.25 state sales tax with a Springfield tax of 2.25 percent, bringing it to 8.5 percent.
Come November, residents may be asked to vote on increasing sales taxes county wide by one percent.
That one percent of revenue would be divvied up between Sangamon county school districts, like Springfield and Chatham, based on student percentage.
The money would go towards school facilities. For example, District 186 needs around $365 million over the next 25 years to bring its facilities up to date.
"We're talking about space needs here because if you go into Springfield High and go into classrooms, if you have 30-32 kids in there, they're on top of each other because the rooms aren't large enough,” District 186 School Board President Mike Zimmers said. “So it's just kind of renovating, restructuring classrooms, making them more conducive to 21st century learning."
The District 186 school board plans to vote by the end of June on how to raise this money, whether through property taxes or a sales tax.
"This is a big tourism town and so a lot of it would be outside of Sangamon County, people coming in here, so the burden's not only on citizens that live here,” Zimmers said. “And so that seems to me to be the least harmful way to go."
Some say they don't think a 1 percent sales tax increase is asking too much.
"Things are changing so fast, they have to be so alert, they need everything they can possibly get to help them,” District 186 grandparent Susie Snoden said.
Yet, others would like to see the money come from somewhere else.
"Everything depends on education,” Springfield resident James Bockmier said. “Do I think it's the best way to raise money for education? No. I'd much rather see income tax or property tax."
In District 186, more than 80 percent of its school buildings are at least 50 years old.