It’s called a public safety tax, but it’s really a criminal justice tax, according to Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler.
Kankakee County voters are being asked in April to increase the county's sales tax rate above the state-minimum 6.25 percent. It’s the 5th time in recent years such a referendum is being presented to voters.
This request will be a hike to 6.5%. That’s a far cry from the 1 percentage point increase that was voted down by a 70 percent margin of voters back in November 2014.
And this time—Wheeler said --- a sunset law would be included, cutting it back after four years.
Voters in Kankakee County have not approved a sales tax rate referendum dating back to 2000. Iroquois County residents approved a quarter-cent sales tax hike last November.
Andy Wheeler, the county board chairman, said the extra .25 percent would add an estimated $1.7 million a year to the county's $24.3 million budget.
That money would be earmarked only for public safety and criminal justice, Wheeler said, specifically pointing to more deputies on the road and prosecutors in the courtroom.
Some officials say the negative vote of the past was based on a lack of trust in the county leadership.
Wheeler says we’ve done our due diligence change the culture, we really scaled back spending to the tune of $8-million over three years. Now, he says, we need the public’s help and trust.