Seth Whitehead | Centralia Sentinel
Most folks in the Salem area are probably familiar with the dozens of ‘.’nodding donkeys” that dot the countryside throughout Marion County. After all, these iconic oilfield contraptions have been pumping “black gold” in Marion County for decades.
But some folks may not be aware that they are also are literally pumping millions of needed funds into the county’s public school systems.
Illinois oil production is assessed and taxed as real estate, similar to property taxes paid on a residential home. All of the revenue collected from this tax stays at the local level and goes directly to support the areas where oil is produced: counties, villages, townships, cities, and most importantly, local schools.
In Marion County – which has been the state’s No. 2 oil producer in recent years – this tax generated $9.2 million in revenue from 2007 to 2013, according toa,2016 RCF Economic & Financial Consultingeconomic impact report. More than half of that revenue went to fund Marion County public schools.”
All told, ad valorem tax revenue from Illinois oil production generated $57.4 million in revenue for the state’s 40-plus oil producing counties from 2007
to 2013. This revenue is absolutely critical, not only because Illinois public schools rely on local property tax revenue for more than 60 percent of their funding, but also because those schools simply cannot rely on our infamously debt-crippled state government to meet its relatively meager education funding obligations.
Illinois ranks dead last in public school funding that comes from the state. And due in large part to a pension crisis, that already inadequate public school funding has been pro-rated at 89 percent in recent years, placing even more burden at the local level, where too much has been asked in the first place.
This is just one example of why Illinois’ oil production industry is so important to the state – a fact upstate “Keep It In the Ground” activists should keep in mind the next time they suggest the oil industry should be done away with entirely.
For more on the Illinois oil industry’s contributions to the state’s economy, check out RCF Economic & Financial Consulting’s economic impact report.
Seth Whitehead, Executive Director Illinois Petroleum Resources Board