RANDOLPH COUNTY, IL (KFVS) - With coal cut out of Randolph County, Illinois economy, county leaders say they need to pass a sales tax initiative to keep the streets safe."
"If you want to be safe you need to support what it takes to make that," Randolph County Commissioner Marc Kiehna said.
Kiehna said times are tight.
"We find ourselves short on revenue, and we kind of have a little crisis that's going on the last three or four years. So, this is a way for us to put money back into the sheriff's department," Kiehna said.
The tax would be one dollar for every hundred, and Kiehna said it would create jobs.
"We currently have eight deputies to serve over six hundred square miles in our county," Kiehna said.
The funds would help fund all law enforcement and first response agencies county wide.
"For years our county has reaped the benefits of having the power plant in our county. Not so anymore. So, that's caused a decrease of over one million dollars a year in sales tax to our county," Kiehna said.
With President Trump rolling back regulations on coal, Kiehna said it's too little too late, and it's time for Randolph County to rely on tourism.
"We will have people coming into our county to spend money. It makes sense for us to tap into the dollars that will be coming into our county by using this sales tax," Kiehna said.
Marty Bert is Chester's fire chief and a local business owner.
"We want public safety on the highest end. It's really important. Then, on the other hand, the sales tax is going to raise sales tax for the business. It may be hard to sell more stuff," Bert said.
Tina Lovell who works in Randolph County says it's not ideal.
"I'm like anybody else. I don't want taxes raised if they don't have to be if it's not a good reason, but if it's going to a good purpose I'm all for it," Lovell said.
"We've done our best to tighten our belts. If this doesn't pass we will continue to do that. My concern is – are we going to be able to take care of our citizens?" Kiehna said.
The tax wouldn't include all purchases.
Titled properties like cars, trucks, and boats, groceries and prescriptions would all be exempt.