Illinois tax changes strip millions from schools, Rock Island County and more

MOLINE -

A new state report is shocking Illinois communities by stripping them just shy of $300-million in replacement tax revenue statewide.

Cash-strapped Rock Island County stands to lose $624,000 in tax revenue.

"That's a real blow to Rock Island County," said Don Johnston, who serves as Moline Township Supervisor and as a member of the Rock Island County Board.

The Department of Revenue report is diverting the money back into the state's general fund.

"The alarming part to me is that I can't get a straight answer of how this happened," said Johnston, on Wednesday, August 30.

Rock Island County was prepared to lose about half its amount.  State changes are now threatening county projects.

"Some of them are probably going to be put on the back burner that should be done," Johnston continued.

The cuts come just as Illinois is finalizing a school funding agreement.  This decision will cost Moline schools more than $1.2 million.

"You've already made plans for personnel and opportunities for students," said Regional Superintendent Tammy Muerhoff.  "It's highly challenging."

Challenging for schools that are rehiring staffers, maintaining programs, even buying supplies.  Each district must decide on how to cut back.

Illinois earlier warned school districts about reductions, but this much larger amount is startling school leaders. Rock Island schools are also bracing to lose more than a million dollars.

"How can we work through this to insure that the opportunities are still being provided to the students?" asked Muerhoff.

There's also concern that Illinois is just kicking its money troubles back to local governments to help pay down bills and deal with its deficit.

That's prompting a call to action from Johnston.

"Find out what exactly happened, and we need to know it right away."

Rock Island County and the rest of Illinois just can't afford to wait.