Volunteers sought to fight Champaign schools' bond issue

CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign resident who wants to see local residents take a vote on Champaign school district's intent to issue $14.5 million in working cash bonds is recruiting volunteers to help him.

Don Kermath hosted a press conference at the Champaign Public Library to try to recruit people to pass petitions gathering registered voters' signatures.

The bond issue would raise property taxes about $25 a year for 20 years for the owner of a $150,000 house.

If 10 percent of registered voters in the school district sign a petition this month, the school district would have to ask voters on the November ballot for approval to issue the bonds.

The school district plans to use the bonds for geothermal systems at two of its middle schools, wireless technology at all of its schools and a new transportation, among other improvements.

Kermath and other volunteers have 25 days left to gather about 5,900 signatures of people who live in the school district.

Kermath said by Monday morning, he had 45 signatures.

He told attendees, many of whom were there for the Active Senior Republican Forum, that he'd like to see more discussion and community involvement on the issue. Putting the working cash bond issue on the November ballot would allow time to do so, he said.

Kermath pointed out that the press conference was separate from the forum. He started a website about the bonds, http://avoiceforschools.com.

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michaelv wrote on March 05, 2012 at 11:03 am

The school board officials are acting within the purvey of their elected positions so what exactly is Mr. Kermath's issue?  If we don't like the positions or actions of the board then there is already an avenue.  Does Mr. Kermath not think that these improvements are necessary and for that matter long overdue?  Not sure he would given he chose to educate his son at STM.  The schools in Unit4 are in dire need of repair and we should finally be celebrating an administration and board that is engaged, has a plan and can be trusted to do what is best for the children of Champaign. Yes I have at child at Central so there is a vested interest.  I applaud the board for seeking out the funds to make these necessary changes.  The time is NOW to improve our schools. 

kevhead71 wrote on March 05, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Excuse me?  I can't speak for Mr. Kermath, but perhaps it's the fact that Unit 4 is proposing to increase property taxes (again) with this working cash bond issue.  Does anyone recall the district's promise to LOWER its property tax rate because of the voter approved 1% school facility sales tax we are all paying every time we buy consumer goods in Champaign county?  There's a good follow-up story for the News Gazette if they're looking for one.  The fact is that many of us are already paying A LOT of property tax to support Unit 4 in addition to the 1% sales tax.  Now, the Unit 4 board needs even more money to upgrade facilities?  ISN'T THAT WHAT THE 1% SCHOOL FACILITY SALES TAX IS FOR?  Unit 4 is trying to get this bond issue approved via "backdoor" referendum which is in "the purvey of their elected positions" but I sincerely doubt that they could get this property tax increase/bond issue approved with a direct referendum.  Gene Logas and the school board are fully aware of this, which is why they are using the backdoor referendum option.  The voters in Champaign have already voted to approve funding for facility improvements and I simply do not agree with the notion that we should celebrate the Unit 4 administration and board by paying even higher taxes.  Mr. Kermath, where do I sign.

mankind wrote on March 05, 2012 at 4:03 pm

In the earlier story it says that the facility sales tax saved average property owners $40 on their bill. The cash bond costs them $25. I doubt it makes you feel much better but according to the math the sales tax is still lowering property tax bills.

pattsi wrote on March 05, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Since the N-G has not yet written an explanatory/investigative article such that the citziens of Champaign can understand just what the 1% sales tax has cost individuals and relate this to any property tax reduction and then juxtaposition all of this against the cash bonds and what this will mean for property taxes, I will attempt to before guesses become facts that the become institutionalized--and not be any way near accurate.

First, estimate how much you have spent in Champaign county since the 1% increase went into effect. Take 1% of this. Now you have an estimated cost for what you have contributed to the Unit 4 budget. Next look at your property tax bill to ascertain what, if any, there has been a decrease in the Unit 4 rate since the 1% went into effect. If there has been a reduction, subtract this from the estimate as to what the 1% has cost you as a tax. Then note that there will no longer be any reduction in the Unit 4 rate. Next figure on an average that your property tax bill under Unit 4 will increase at least $25/year for the next 20 years. How has this worked out for you. My bet is that you have not saved anything. As for those who rent, this has all been and wlll be passed down to you in a rent increase.

None of this covers the other costs causing these costs, such TIF and Enterprise Zones along with any other forms of tax rebates. Unit 4 has never provided just how much the district has lost in property taxes due to tax abatement or TIF districts and Enterprise Zones over the decades.

bluegrass wrote on March 05, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Pattsi, I don't see how it's possible to figure out how much I've spent with the additional 1% sales tax, which was kind of the point anyway.  The propents knew that it will be impossible for most people to figure it out.  They also knew that they could simply spend the bonds out, run out of working cash and go back to the taxpayer for more, which is exactly what is happening now.  A better way to figure it out is to look at what Unit 4 got or is getting from the sales tax money, compared to what they gave up in the tax levy.  The problem is that the school districts aren't required to lower their tax levy by any amount based on the sales tax revenue, they just said they would.  According to the News Gazette article from July of 2011 Unit 4 collected just over $8 million in revenue in a year and a half, and sold $83 in bonds based on that revenue stream.


http://www.news-gazette.com/news/education/2011-07-31/districts-using-nearly-21-million-county-sales-tax.html


TIF districts have nothing to do with the Unit 4 school board trying to levy a tax without a vote, whether they have the authority to do so or not. 


 


 

pattsi wrote on March 05, 2012 at 11:03 pm

You are correct that TIF has nothing to do to levy a tax without a vote. But TIF does have something to do with the fiancial straights that the district is claiming.

One way to figure out how much of what you spent is the 1% is to look at charge card statements. Granted an estimate, but will give a clue.

Your suggestion of the alternative way to look at the situation has merit, but does not help an individual figure out what it might be costing the individual per year. The latter is important for those on fixed incomes and low-income individuals. These are the folk that have no discretionary income to absorb these increases.

Mike Howie wrote on March 05, 2012 at 9:03 pm
pattsi wrote on March 05, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Thank you for the archive. I do not see any articles that contain a deep financial analysis of the cost to citizens for the 1%, best use thereof, actual need for more funds, best use of these funds, what TIF has cost the district, etc.

mark loraine wrote on March 05, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Has Mr. Kermath, or any of his friends, been through Jefferson or Franklin Middle Schools.... or any other schools within the district for that matter?   50 year old + buildings with infrastructure deteriorating - how do we effectively teach our children in classroom environments that we have today?  His tanning spas may like hot rooms, but our children can hardly focus on classroom activities when temperatures reach 80 degrees.   "Hats off" to the Board of Education and District Administration for taking the initiative to renovate our existing schools to provide quality education environments for our students!  Our schools play a critical role in our community, and the initiaive of the District to promote environmental stewardship with energy efficient and renewable energy of geothermal HVAC systems should be admired.  Shame on the local restaurants that have joined with Mr. Kermath!  We need to stop being so short-sighted and self-centered.  Nobody likes taxes, but the District is trying to provide district wide air conditioning for our students.  The District will save over $100,000 a year by air conditioning with geothermal HVAC systems!  Mr. Kermath would lead you to believe that it would be a better idea to not improve our schools so that he can save his tax dollars...  and yet we quickly overlook how much our school district can impact our overall property values.   Pass the word, we need to boycott all the establishments that list their names on Mr. Kermath's website and applaud the District's initiative to provide a quality education for our students!!

Mark Taylor wrote on March 07, 2012 at 4:03 pm

I'm so glad the Active Senior Republicans are there to put a stop to this boondoggle snob elitist education of our children. Why should I pay to "educate" other people's children? If you can't afford to homeschool your kids yourself, then you shouldnt have children, PERIOD. I've said it before and I'll say it again: let's take Newts advice and put the lower income kids to work scrubbing the toilets of the kids whose parents are better at being successful. Better yet, let's get rid of child labor laws and end the farce of government communist indoctrination madrasahs. All schools do is make your kids think their smarter then you and turn them into secular progressive humanists. We only need one or too schools in this town. Let's close the others and sell them off to Wal-Mart and let the kids finally work for a buck.