$40 million for new Monticello HS could be offset by increasing sales tax

MONITCELLO--To rebuild the high school or not? It's a proposition showing up on several ballots Tuesday, and in Monticello it's a $40 million question.

Monticello High School has been around since the 1920s. It's seen some updates since then, but after two years of parent-teacher conferences, the school board decided it was time to relocate and rebuild.

"When we went to our community members in a survey and we asked them if this was on the ballot today would you vote for it, 52 percent of the people said yes," said Monticello CUSD #25 Superintendent, Dr. Vic Zimmerman. "So that was a signal to our school board, we got to put this on the ballot."

So Tuesday, Monitcello voters will be asked to check yes if they think the district should build a brand new high school, and renovate the current site so the elementary schools can be consolidated there. The overhaul would cost $40 million, and residents would foot the bill.

"For a homeowner with a $100,000 market value home, it will cost them $190 in additional property taxes," said Zimmerman. "That's an estimate."

Because that amount could drop $40-$50 if voters across Piatt County approve a one percent increase to its sales tax. But that revenue wouldn't only be used to upgrade Monticello schools, it would be dispersed to other districts, like Bement, based on the number of students enrolled in each.

"If we're fortunate enough to have that money moving forward, one of the things we're looking at is doing a lot of energy upgrades," said Sheila Greenwood, superintendent of Bement CUSD #5. "And we're also looking at down the road, putting some air conditioning in for the middle school  and high school so we don't have to have early out days because of the heat."

The sales tax increase is expected to bring in between $750,000-$800,000. Monticello would receive an estimated $400,000, while Bement would get around $85,000. The rest would go to other districts.
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