Springfield Schools Seek Grant For Missing State Property Taxes

Springfield schools could reap in an extra million dollars  or so under a measure the Illinois Senate approved today.  It’s based on a belief that the district is losing cash because it has so many government buildings. 

State government has been a boon for Springfield – Illinois is the city’s biggest employer.

But it also has its downsides.  None of the government properties around the city are subject to property taxes.  And property taxes are Illinois’ schools prime source of funding.

Senator Andy Manar, a Democrat whose district includes Springfield, says that means Springfield School District 186 is taking a hit.

MANAR: “Having the seat of state government that has an incredible number of properties and acreage of properties from small offices to the state fairgrounds to the Capitol grounds, that are dispersed throughout the district …”

Manar is sponsor of a measure that would give District 186 a state grant, using a formula that factors in how much of the district is state-owned land.  His plan just authorizes the concept; for District 186 to actually get the money, legislators would separately have to agree to pay.

Critics tried to debunk Manar’s argument — it’s not as though there are children living on state property that Springfield is responsible for educating.  But the measure won Senate approval.

Springfield schools spokesman Pete Sherman says it would not provide District 186 with a “windfull” but it would help ease the deficit, which is bordering $11 million.

-Amanda Vinicky

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