Edgar Co. public safety referendum would increase sales tax by 1%

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EDGAR CO., Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) — The Edgar County Jail closed at the end of 2019 after losing insurance coverage because of its conditions.

Inmates have been housed in other counties, which costs Edgar County a lot of money.

“We’re having to pay upwards of $40,000 to $45,000 a month, plus the transportation costs to and from and also to and from the court system. “It’s costing us, you know, at this rate that we’re spending right now, upwards of $750,000 which is not in our budget,” said County Board Chairman Jeff Voigt.

Primary election day in Illinois is less than a month away and a referendum on the ballot is proposing a one percent sales tax increase to help with this.

Sales tax in Edgar County is currently 7.25% and the in the city of Paris it’s set at 8%.

“That money would then be used, as it’s collected, to maintain the sheriff’s department to the level that the state requires. Plus it would look at solving our long-term facility issue with the jail,” Voigt said.

The sales tax would also support other needs within the Edgar County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve only got five road deputies to cover this county 24-7. We need to solve that problem,” Voigt added.

One Edgar County resident believes the referendum can be seen as a positive, for the good of the county.

“Any improvements that we do to our public safety, or water, or infrastructure, anything like that I do believe it’s a good thing,” said Richard Wilken.

If the referendum does pass on March 17, the sales tax will be in place indefinitely but could be lowered over time.

If it doesn’t pass, Voigt said it could appear again on the ballot in November.

There’s a public meeting Thursday at Prospect bank in Paris at 5 p.m. for voters with questions.

There is a second referendum is for the northern part of Edgar County only. It’s proposing levying property tax to provide an ambulance.

Early voting is taking place in the Edgar County Courthouse until March 16.

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