PARIS, Ill. (WTWO/WAWV) -During a public meeting on Thursday, a former Edgar County sheriff says improvements to jail were needed years ago.
Since the end of 2019, the Edgar County jail has been closed.
To reopen the facility county officials say they need to address issues with the jail’s staffing and conditions.
The county is also facing concerns with the number of deputies who serve the community.
“Right now we only have four deputies and few part-timers to cover 24/7 a 600 plus square mile county,” said Jeff Voigt, chair of Edgar County Board.
On March 17th, Edgar County voters are being asked to support a referendum that would increase sales taxes by one percent.
That money would allow the county to address the issues they see now, plus look at long-term options for their jail.
“It’s something that we need to step up and do as a county to put things right,” Voigt said.
On Thursday, a public meeting was held to discuss the referendum.
Among those in the room was former Edgar County Sheriff Edward Motley who in 2012 wrote a memo to county board members which detailed issues within the jail.
“It’s not good. I mean it was brought to everybody’s attention but I don’t know why we didn’t continue to work on it,” Motley said.
Motley fears that these issues have been put aside for too long.
“At least they’re trying to move forward but I just don’t know what they’re going to do yet. I don’t know if the tax will work, it’s kind of late,” Motley said.
Since Motley’s time as sheriff, leadership of the board has changed and Voigt says regardless of the past Edgar County has to look towards their future.
“To dissect the problems of the past, we missed them for whatever reason people thought at the time, but the opportunity is here and now,” Voigt said.
If passed, this sales tax would not impact certain items.
This includes groceries and prescriptions among several others.
County officials say if the referendum does not pass it can be placed on future ballots.
Voigt says that decision has not been made at this time.