The Effingham County Board has added a quarter-percent sales tax question on the ballot for the April Consolidated Election. If passed, the referendum will add an additional quarter-percent tax to the purchase of certain items within Effingham County. The county operates the Sheriff’s Office, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk, Probation, Treasurer, Emergency Management, Coroner, Airport, Administration, Assessor’s Office, and the Health Department.
County Board Chairman Jim Niemann laid out what the county will use the revenue for in a note recently delivered to the news media. If passed, the tax increase would cost consumers and additional 25 cents for every $100 spend in the county. It is estimated to net the county around $1.4-million annually. Of the current sales tax, at 6.5%, about 1.25% goes to the county.
Niemann said the county will use the funds to build up its cash-on-hand reserves. With increasing uncertainty with the state, funding for local government bodies could be in jeopardy. The County’s current cash in savings is around $1.5-million and would only pay for a little over a tenth of the yearly operating budget. The target number is around $5-6 million so the county could operate for about 6 months if state funding is late.
Part of the plan for the referendum also includes property tax abatement. This means that that the county’s portion of the annual property tax would not change. The cost for the county operate increases about 4%, or $400,000, every year due pay raises, healthcare costs and mandated expenses by the State and Federal Governments. The proposed referendum comes with a four-year sunset clause that will automatically discontinue unless the current County Board puts it in front of voters again.
Effingham County’s sales tax rate is lower than most of its neighbors and is even lower than other counties with significant interstate traffic. South Central Illinois Regioanl Planning estimates that 47% of sales taxes paid in Effingham are paid for by individuals who do not live in the County.
Additionally, Effingham County schools are asking for a 1% sales tax increase for facility improvements.