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A 1 percent sales tax?

PHS looks at pros/cons sales of tax discussion

PRINCETON — Princeton High School is willing to listen to the discussion but not really interested in actively pursuing a 1 percent sales tax initiative.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the PHS Board, Superintendent Kirk Haring said the Bureau Valley School District has sent him a letter about the possibility of placing a 1 percent sales tax initiative on the November 2014 ballot. Bureau Valley wants to see if there is an interest from other school districts in pursuing this initiative together. Personally, he’s not in favor of the sales tax initiative for PHS, Haring said.

Giving his reasons, Haring said PHS has been very careful to maintain or reduce tax rates for local taxpayers without reducing programs or services for the students and also continuing to improve the facility and services. The district has a good tax base and EAV, with great support from the Princeton community. The district has done a “phenomenal job” of addressing the needs at the school, without having to go to the local taxpayers for more money. Though not personally in favor of a sales tax initiative, he would explore it further if the board wanted him to, Haring said.

The sales tax initiative discussion is statewide, Haring said. Several counties have passed referendums, while other counties have not, he said.

Board member Al Taylor said he didn’t see this as a positive step for the city of Princeton or Princeton High School.

However, board member Stephanie Van Ordstrand said the sales tax initiative might be an interesting and valuable discussion, especially if considering the Princeton Elementary District and education as a whole, kindergarten through 12th grades. At this point, she couldn’t say if she was for or against the initiative.

Any decision by Princeton Elementary would be its own decision, not limited by any decision by PHS, Haring said.

In his comments, Gary Coates said the board has worked hard to keep the tax rate down for the citizens, but he liked the idea of not turning the board’s back to the discussion. The bottom line is any referendum question would have to go the voters for approval, he said.

After further discussion, Haring said he would let Bureau Valley know that PHS is willing to continue to receive information and to be part of the discussion.

In other business, the board approved buying a new electronic sign at the corner of Euclid and Central avenues to replace the existing one which no longer works. The existing sign was damaged last fall when an electrical power surge “fried” the sign’s internal electronics after a car hit an electric pole outside of town. The insurance company has sent a $12,974 payment, minus a $1,000 deductible.

The new sign, which will be bought from Baum Sign for $16,000, is a vast improvement over the existing sign that was purchased by the district about nine years ago, Haring said. The new sign will have improved electronics and remote access from smart devices and will have the ability to broadcast multiple lines of text and colors. Delivery is anticipated within about eight weeks.

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