By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
NAUVOO, Ill. — The Nauvoo-Colusa School Board must either cut programs or issue working cash bonds now that voters have rejected a 55-cent tax increase in the education fund.
The hike was designed to stave off cuts in the elementary district. Even though the results were disappointing, with 199 votes in favor and 514 against, "we'll get through it," Superintendent Kent Young said. "People don't like their taxes raised."
Putting a referendum back on the ballot in the future also remains a possibility, Young said.
Discussion to decide the district's next step begins at the next board meeting on Monday.
Declining state revenue, coupled with rising costs, pushed Nauvoo-Colusa into deficit spending of about $200,000 a year. The School Board put the tax increase on the ballot and had taken steps potentially to issue $1 million in working cash bonds if the referendum didn't pass.
Young said the bonds are a "short-term fix" to the problem, while the referendum offered "more of a long-term fix."
The district's $2 tax rate in the education fund, the largest operating fund, is the lowest in Hancock County and one of the lowest in the state, Young said. Even had the referendum been approved, the district still would have had one of the lowest tax rates.
In recent years, Young said the district has made cuts and looked for savings on staff, utilities, equipment and transportation. More cuts "at this point would be programs like sports or a teacher not required by law or the common core standards," Young said. "There's no place else to cut."
Most of the district's operating funds, 75 percent, comes from local tax dollars, with the rest from state and federal sources.
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