1% sales tax: how much have we received?

one_percent_sales_tax_distributionsWith all the talk of the high school location, a property tax referendum and references back to the 1% sales tax (and promises made), I got to thinking “How much money has Unit 4 received as a result of the 1% sales tax?” I have asked Matt Foster and am waiting for a response. So in the meantime, I have also asked Regional Superintendent Jane Quinlan, who kindly provided a PDF showing all distributions of 1% sales tax money in Champaign (and Ford) County. I have asked that Ms. Quinlan provide an Excel spreasheet of the document, so hopefully I can update this post when that comes in. I have also asked that this information be posted by the ROE’s website. Hopefully annually. 🙂

 

For Champaign schools:

2010: $4,251,859.73
2011: $6,790,436.80
2012: $6,982,475.04
2013: $7,115,047.42
Total: $25,139,818.99

 

It is interesting to note that Unit 4 takes more than a third of the entire pie from two counties. Champaign and Urbana together equal half the pie. Pretty amazing.

 

So now that I have these numbers, I will be leaning on Unit 4 and Matt Foster for where this money went once Unit 4 received it. I know the Promises Made Promises Kept committee talks about this stuff all the time, but the documents shared at those meetings are not online, and thus all we see are the summary meeting minutes. Also, I have been told that the Unit 4 website does have other relevant documents online, but it is hard for me to find them.

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3 Responses to “1% sales tax: how much have we received?”

  1. Cjwincu Says:

    Imagine how much more work Matt could get done without answering questions that have answers available if people are paying attention or do some legwork. You can attend a PMPK meeting or if you review the minutes it should include the info on the pay as you go projects funded. Call Arlene Blank I am sure she will share all the data she has accumulated as the longest serving PMPK member.

    As a former member of PMPK I can tell you the majority of the sales tax funds go to pay the debt service on the bonds sold in 2010. The balance available is used primarily for various capital improvement projects that are funded on a pay as you go basis at various schools across the District.

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    I realize that actually going to a meeting would be very informational – I get that. Problem is, the times are not good for me. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. And I have looked at meeting minutes from time to time – depending on the mood of the person writing them, sometimes the minutes are decent, other times they are very vague. Just taking a look at the last meeting (December 2013), I see a couple interesting things.

    “Fund 60 and 61 project expenses: fund balances for both 60 and 61 will be emailed.”
    That doesn’t tell me any numbers at all.

    “There was a question about Robeson – the Sentinel PO 12004267 charges from year 12. Sentinel Agreements for all 4 elementary schools were signed in 2012. Robeson’s was for $13,800, through the end of FY13 $4,900 was paid so the remaining $8,900 that was left on the purchase order was rolled over to the following year.”
    This was a very good explanation, providing enough detail that I can guess what the question was.

    “The excess funds in fund 61 will be used to make up for the difference in the estimated costs.”
    Again, this doesn’t really tell me anything.

    “Garden Hills will be nearly $3,000 over budget.”
    In and of itself, this tells me only a little bit, but not quite enough. Fortunately, later in the minutes, this is broken down to the penny and line-by-line.

    Another confusing thing; from the outset, it is not clear what exactly Fund 60 and Fund 61 are. Gene Logas has explained in the past and the information can be found in other meeting minutes (for those that do the legwork/homework, as I have), but it is not exactly spelled out in a FAQ or anything, that I know of. Maybe it is on a different page that I have not yet seen. Additionally, even though the numbers are factual pieces of information, it is hard for those of us who are visually-oriented to “see” how money flows. For instance, I recently learned (via Matt Foster) that the 1% money goes into a fund which pays off the bonds, which initially were used to pay off the big money construction jobs. So 1% money does not directly go towards any construction or capital improvement, it goes basically to pay off debt. Which is exactly what you have described. My point is that it is not obvious to those who do not understand the financial jargon that well.

    One might ask, well if you don’t understand it, why the flipping flap are you asking obnoxious questions about it?!? I ask questions because I believe it is the responsibility of tax payers to understand where their money is going, and I hope to help us all make some progress in understanding. It is a slow journey. As I have said before, Gene Logas did a decent job of spelling things out via the many documents on the Finance Department Unit 4 webpage, and he was REALLY good about answering questions one-on-one! But that doesn’t help Joe Schmoe. I realize it is a difficult task to educate the entire voting population, since there will inevitably be those that just don’t care. So how do we approach this issue in such a way as to be mutually beneficial?

    Telling people to go to a PMPK meeting isn’t going to cut it, for most folks.

    Besides, what’s the problem with posting the reports online? They have a ton of good info. If I had three wishes, I would also love to have a transcription of the audio available, since often Matt Foster will explain something in-depth during the meeting that invariably escapes the meeting minutes. No amount of legwork will recover that.

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    PS – there are ZERO meeting minutes for 2012. Zip, zilch, nada, nothing.


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