Thank you Edgar Co.

Voters stepped up to accept financial responsibility for two problems

Posted 3/23/20

Edgar County residents have stepped up to confront two problems and accept the financial responsibility with new taxes.

Both issues were special questions on the Tuesday, March 17, primary ballot …

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Thank you Edgar Co.

Voters stepped up to accept financial responsibility for two problems

Posted

Edgar County residents have stepped up to confront two problems and accept the financial responsibility with new taxes.

Both issues were special questions on the Tuesday, March 17, primary ballot and both passed.

Residents of northern Edgar County support the idea of creating a special service area, with a property tax, to help underwrite the cost of keeping an ambulance in Chrisman to serve Young America, Ross, Prairie, Brouilletts Creek, Edgar and Shiloh townships. To be clear, this referendum is advisory only and does not create the special service area.

It does show the county board that northern residents support adding a special service area onto their property taxes. Authority to create a special service area rests with the county board and that involves a public hearing and protest period in case opponents want to try and stop it. More information about the process will appear in future issues at an appropriate time.

For now, it is proper to acknowledge the wisdom of voters in the six townships for recognizing an ambulance service must have adequate funding to continue and the public has an obligation to pay for it.

The one percent safety tax won in a countywide vote. This 1 cent per dollar sales tax on some, but not all, purchases is devoted to the needs of the Edgar County Sheriff’s Department and can be applied to personnel, equipment, training, building maintenance and bonds should it become necessary to build a new jail in the future.

While asking for a new tax is never easy or popular, an additional revenue stream gives the county a way to move forward on a longstanding problem regarding conditions in the Edgar County Jail and a lack of corrections officers. The problem came to a head when the Illinois Department of Corrections threatened legal action, the county’s insurance provider refused to cover the jail until changes were made and the jail closed.

When the jail reopens a minimum of two corrections officers must be on duty at all times, which will increase operating expenses. The other issue is how long can a jail that dates to the 19th century in some parts keep pace with changes in how to operate penal institutions? A new jail may be necessary at some point in the future and the safety tax can help with that expense.

The county is on the right track to keep moving forward rather than falling farther and farther behind.