County Turns to Safety Tax to Free Up Funds

Effingham, IL / Effingham Radio
County Turns to Safety Tax to Free Up Funds

The county might have one more tax referendum to vote on in April. The Tax and Finance Committee voted Thursday to forward a resolution to the full board that would add an additional quarter-percent public safety tax, on sales, to the April Consolidated Ballot. Committee Chairman Rob Arnold said that revenue from the new tax would likely be used to supplement public safety funds so that money could be diverted for other county expenses. Namely, a yearly increase to the tune of $140,000 in employee salaries as well as building the county’s rainy day fund.

“We want to build up our savings,” Arnold said. The county currently has around $1.4-million in the bank, enough to pay for a little over a tenth of the budget. “I would feel better having $5-million in the bank for a county level just to be able to stand on your own and have that if you have anything happen, I’m hoping it doesn’t happen, but if anything bad happens we’re in a fiscal responsibility to where we can react to it.”

Arnold discusses possible uses for the tax.

The vote to forward the referendum to the full board only had one “no” vote. That from board newcomer John Perry. “The reason why I voted no is because they really haven’t come with a comprehensive plan on how they’re going to spend the money,” Perry said.  He stated that he would rather have the plan laid out, in detail, at the committee level before it goes to the full board. “I think the taxpayers rely on us, and elect us, to help them make that decision in terms of [that] we’re informed on what the facts are, assuming I’m sure, that we have a detailed plan on why we’re wanting this money and what we want to spend it on.”

Perry on his “no” vote.

Another board member, Joe Thoele, said that he’d vote to send the resolution to the full board, but would not guarantee that he would vote for it again there.

The county is already paying a quarter-percent sales tax that was approved to pay for the construction of the Government Center and County Jail. Arnold said the proposed tax would generate about $1.4 million.

The referendum still has some hurtles to clear. It still needs to be voted on by the full board before it ends up on the April ballot. That vote will take place at the the Tuesday board meeting slated for 4:00 pm. Area school districts have approved a 1% facilities tax for April as well.

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