Stephenson County Residents Don't Want Taxes Raised, but at what Cost?

- Freeport- Taylor Park Elementary is one of many Stephenson County Schools that needs a makeover.

Regional Superintendent of Stephenson, Jo Daviess, and Carroll Counties Aaron Mercier says “most of the schools in the area are built in about the mid 1950’s, and so we have some maintenance projects, some roofing, some concrete work, windows that is ongoing.”

But a proposed one percent Stephenson County Sales Tax increase that would have been used to fix up schools like these was voted down in Tuesday’s election by a whopping 73 percent. Shocking some parents like Corey Engle.

Engle says “I think the infrastructure of the schools are really important. They have to be kept up for teachers who want to come here, for people who want to come here, and grow their lives here.”

Freeport residents who voted “No” feel their taxes are already too high, and another one percent increase could send shoppers over the boarder.

Freeport resident Lee Ludke says “different people already, where I work down at Farm and Fleet, say how they were going to other areas like Monroe Wisconsin, and Clinton Iowa and buying their stuff, their larger purchases because of the fact of the extra tax savings and that would have drove more out of here.”

Officials are now looking at other options to fix up schools. Mercier adds “it’s early right now. I think we need to see what the state budget is going to look like. We need to see what’s going to come from the state in the terms of State Aid.

And if they don’t get enough Aid, the fallout could be drastic. Mercier explains “it could be literally getting to the point where schools can’t survive if they don’t have reasonable amount of return from the state that they would literally be talking about closing schools because they can’t operate without being able to meet their payroll and keep the facilities open.”

Officials have not ruled out the sales tax increase appearing again on November’s ballot.

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