For the first time in 30 years, voters in the Byron School District are being asked to raise their property taxes. The November referendum is an effort to avoid major budget holes and cuts in the future.
Clay Lindsey has been busy pushing his message for the November election: Vote yes on the Byron School Referendums.
"It's time for the parents to step forward and pay their share," says Lindsey, the co-chair of the Byron Referendum Committee.
Voters are being asked to pass a 56 and a half cent tax increase for the district's education and building funds.
Besides putting up signs, Lindsey and others on the referendum committee have been handing out buttons and hosting informational sessions, explaining why a yes vote is needed.
"The community has set a standard of demanding quality education and with the drop in the district's EAV, additional revenue has to come from somewhere," says Lindsey.
Many are concerned about a drop in revenue because of uncertainty about the reassessment of the Byron Nuclear Power Plant. The plant currently generates $13.5 million in taxes for the district. Most are expecting a large drop in the plant's property value, which would mean less funds in the future for the district.
"The days of having the power plant at a high value are over," says Interim School Superintendent Carroll Smith.
But passing the referendum won't guarantee the district will be in the clear. The school board has already made nearly $10 million in cuts since 1997, but Smith says priorities will still have to be set; and that’s why Sharon Eiseley, who works in the district, is hesitant to vote yes.
"What happens if the evaluation on plant doesn't go through and here I am voting to raise my taxes and I might lose my job," says Eiseley.
Others are concerned that a yes vote will just open the door to more referendums in the future, but those on the referendum committee urge voters to take a hard look at the facts before making a decision.