A Note from the Superintendent’s Desk – Info about School Facilities Tax

Carrie Hruby – Superintendent District 90

According to www.realtor.com, 91 percent of prospective home buyers said public school boundaries were an important part of their search. Their research shows, “Consumers are willing to sacrifice certain things to live in the right school district. One out of five buyers would give up a bedroom or a garage for a better school. One out of three would purchase a smaller home to wind up in the right district. Half of the home-buying population is willing to pay more than their intended budget to get into the right school district, and more than half would give up other amenities.”

School facilities are property of the tax payers. On April 4 St. Clair County voters will be given an opportunity to consider the County School Facilities Sales Tax and its potential impact to schools and to the reduction of property taxes. The CFST is often referred to as a one percent sales tax, or a one cent sales tax for school facilities.

The funds generated from CFST can be used for long-term school facility purposes such as roof repairs, security entrances, access for disabled students/visitors, or technology infrastructure to name a few. The funds cannot be used to pay operating costs such as salaries, supplies, utilities or equipment that is not affixed to the building.

The funds can also be used to refund (pay off) bonds or reduce property taxes levied to pay bonds issued for facilities purposes. Each of the school districts in O’Fallon-Shiloh have committed to using at least half of the CFST revenue to retire existing debt and subsequently decrease the burden of property taxes. The remaining funds would be used for property tax avoidance as projects can be completed in a pay-as-you-go manner using the sales tax funds, or bonds can be issued against the future sales tax revenue, thereby eliminating the need to request a tax increase to fund said project.

The County School Facilities Tax is a sales tax on retail purchases. Items that are not taxed include medications (prescription or over-the counter), unprepared grocery foods, vehicles, farm equipment, and services. A good rule of thumb is that if an item is not taxed today, such as services, it would not taxed by the CFST. The revenue generated from CFST does not pass through the Illinois General Assembly or its state budget process. It is collected county-wide and disseminated by the Regional Office of Education to schools in St. Clair County based on student enrollment counts.