Springfield shopping gets pricier after voters OK school sales tax
Voters decided Sangamon County school building improvements were worth boosting Springfield’s sales tax to among the highest in the nation. The 1 percent sales tax hike will take the total to 10.75 percent at some stores.
The new sales tax will pinch Springfield residents in particular, bringing the city’s combined sales tax rate to 9.75 percent – among the highest in the nation.
But the city’s South Central Business District, home to Scheels and several restaurants along MacArthur Boulevard, will endure an even larger hike. Shoppers in that district had already been paying a combined 9.75 percent sales tax rate, meaning the new 1 percent tax will lift that burden to 10.75 percent, surpassing Chicago’s 10.25 percent rate as the highest in the nation.
Leaders expect the tax to generate $20.8 million, with $10.1 million going to Springfield School District 186. The sales tax referendum comes following a 3.3 percent property tax levy increase the District 186 school board approved in December.
Under state law, school districts can petition for a sales tax of up to 1 percent to fund school repairs and renovations. If school district boards representing over 50 percent of the county’s student population approve the sales tax, it is then introduced as a referendum on a county ballot.
Unfortunately, Illinoisans cite high taxes as the No. 1 reason they consider leaving the state. Outmigration has fueled population loss in both Springfield as well as at the county level. School districts should aim to fund school repairs and renovations by reducing excessive employee compensation and trimming inflated administrative costs.
Moreover, state lawmakers should pursue reforms that enable school districts to control costs and avoid subjecting overtaxed residents to further tax hikes.