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Local

Grundy County voters say ‘no’ to public safety tax

GRUNDY COUNTY – Grundy County voters chose to vote no to a public safety tax question placed on the ballot by the Grundy County board.

With 72.5 percent of the votes in at press time, voters voted 1,932 to 666 against the tax.

Voters were asked to answer the following question, “To pay for public safety purposes, shall Grundy County be authorized to impose an increase on its share of local sales taxes by .50%? This would mean that a consumer would pay an additional 50 cents in sales tax for every $100 of tangible property bought at retail.”

According to Doug Pryor, Grundy County administrator, the public safety tax applies to the sale of tangible goods just like regular sales tax in many cases but would not have applied to medications, prescription or over the counter as well as medical supplies such as medical appliances and needles, food that is used for human consumption where it isn’t sold, such as local grocery stores, farm machinery, or any item with a personal title or registered with the state item such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and trailers.

The Public Safety Tax also had specific items it can be used for, such as crime prevention, detention, emergency and police services.

“Grundy County would only be able to use the revenue generated for public safety purposes,” Pryor said. “Public safety services comprise more than 60 percent of the County’s general fund budget.”

Grundy County’s sales tax revenue has decreased by 59 percent over the last five years, or $2.4 million.

The largest portion of the sales tax decrease is due to the restructuring of rules at the Illinois Department of Revenue regarding sales offices.

While public safety is currently funded partially through a combination of tax revenues, fees and fines, and state and federal grants, the majority comes from the county board’s general fund, and in 2016 expenditures were at $9 million or 60 percent of the county’s general fund spending. The county board is obligated to maintain public safety services within the county and this sales tax would help do that without a raise in resident’s property taxes.

Pryor estimated the tax would have generated about $1.2 million annually and said, since the money is coming from sales tax, anyone traveling through the county or coming here to shop would share in the cost rather than just burdening the property owners with a raise in property tax.

Because of the question failing, the county’s sales tax will remain at 6.25 percent and the board will need to make decisions on how to close the funding gap.

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