The yards are littered with signs of various sorts, telling us it’s time to prepare to head to the polls. Last fall’s failed school referendum comes to mind.
I’m not going to debate the need for new buildings. What I would like to discus is school funding and impact to the community. Our county is one of highest taxed county in state and our country. There are those that will dispute its validity. And I won’t even dispute that point.
But what can’t be disputed is that some sort of plan needs to be implemented and that the high property tax affects the prosperity of our county.
The lack of proper funding has led us to inadequate and poorly maintained schools.
We also need to acknowledge that we are low on the list of concerns from Springfield or Chicago, wherever you think the real power base lies. In short, we need to come up with our own plan. A plan that will promote development in our county.
Without development, we will not bring in much-needed jobs for our children. Wouldn’t it be great if our children could stay in our communities to raise their families and be near extended family? We have a nice industrial park, power and water updates. We are ready to expand, but so aren’t hundreds of other communities throughout the country.
The Homestead Act was the first government plan to provide for education of children. As time passed, the money produced from that source was inadequate and a property tax was introduced. Then later an income tax, sales taxes, fuel taxes and others.
I think it’s time for another change. If we can set ourselves apart, we can make our county more prosperous.
For example, we leave the farmland tax alone but change how we tax ALL improvements. Homes, businesses, farm buildings, etc. If we would eliminate a large share of the tax on improvements, then businesses would have an affordable place to build, which brings in new jobs, which increases demand for housing, which improves home values and encourages building new homes.
It also gives tax breaks to our Main Street businesses, which allows them to compete with businesses that were given tax abatements.
Sounds too good to be true? Anything is possible, and we would have to get creative with raising funds. A county income tax could be added. Tapping into a different revenue stream. We could also add a county sales tax.
Yes, we would be trading one tax for another. But by spreading costs of education across a number of additional sources, we can spread the pain and encourage progress.
Collectively, we need to fix the school funding problem first. When that is fixed, then a comprehensive plan can be implemented that will make our schools better, communities more prosperous, and create an environment that encourages job growth. When we get these things accomplished, then we will be making a home for future generations of our family to stay in the community that we love.