EFFINGHAM COUNTY — Effingham County residents will have two tax questions on the ballot Tuesday for the Consolidated Election. One from the County requests a quarter-cent added to the sales tax in the area. The other, from school districts, requests a one-percent addition to the county sales tax rate. Taxable items include prepared food, soda, and alcoholic beverages. Medical supplies will not be taxed. Effingham County’s current sales tax is 6.5-percent. If both taxes are adopted, that rate will hit 7.75-percent.
The County plans to use revenue from the tax to build up their reserves due to increased uncertainty with State Funding. There is currently around $1.2-million in the County savings account, or approximately a tenth of their 2017 budget. County Board Member Rob Arnold has suggested that their goal is to raise at least $5-million for the savings account so the County could continue to operate essential services without state funding. This proposal has a four-year “sunset” clause, meaning that unless voted on again it will expire. The County currently has a quarter-cent sales tax in effect that is being used to pay for the Government Center in downtown Effingham which will be paid off later this year. The tax is estimated to generate around $1.4-million.
Different school districts have different plans for revenue generated from the one-cent tax proposal. While future boards are not legally bound by past board decisions, some districts have pledged to abate property taxes if the sales tax is approved. Effingham and Teutopolis both have major facility needs. Effingham will be using money to retrofit Effingham Junior High School and Teutopolis will be demolishing the 1929 portion of the High School and rebuilding it. The vast majority of funds for these projects will come from bonds sold against revenue from the tax. Based on past figures, Effingham will generate around $2.4-million and Teutopolis will generate around $1.1-million. Altamont, Beecher City, and Dieterich school districts will all come in under 1-million. Tax dollars are distributed based on school enrollment. This tax does not expire. School District officials have said that around 54-percent of sales taxes are paid by out-of-county visitors.
You can listen to an interview on the topic with Teutopolis Superintendent Bill Fritcher and Dieterich Superintendent Cary Jackson here.