PERRY COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - As Illinois residents vote Tuesday, March 17 on various races and issues, Perry County Sheriff Steve Bareis said he is desperately in need of additional funding from the proposed public safety sales tax.
According to the Sheriff, he has not seen a critical staffing shortage at the sheriff’s office like this in more than 50 years.
“My biggest concern is for safety - safety of my staff, safety of the public," he said.
“We have one person that may run from one side of the county to the next from call to call, albeit, a break in, theft, domestic battery, or an altercation or whatever they are responding to,” Bareis said.
The sheriff’s campaign is called “Back to Badge,” in hopes to provide backup for officers and some operational needs to continue functioning, he said. He hopes the tax will rake in $600,000 like the current public safety .5 percent tax the county brings in a;ready.
The additional funding will allow for double coverage - two additional officers patrolling the streets and two additional in the jail, along with fixes to the office’s roof.
In 2019, the county attempted to levy an additional sales tax, but it failed. Twenty-nine percent voted in favor of the tax, while 71 percent voted against it.
Bareis said the tax needs to pass this time.“The difference between the referendum in April of 2019, and today, because that didn’t pass, we are now cut to the bone, and we are at a place now where it’s a necessity,” he said.
Du Quoin residents fund 72 percent of the county’s sales tax. Du Quoin Mayor Guy Alongi said he supports law enforcement, but opposes this sales tax because he feels it’s an added burden and puts businesses and manufacturers at a disadvantage.
“It’s bad for business," he said.
John Malinski, a Pinckneyville resident, agreed.
“Well that’s strange, when I was young, they only had one sheriff and one deputy, if they can do it back then they should be able to do it now," Malinski said. "Too much taxes they have enough money already.”
“I firmly believe it’s just a matter of time that somebody is going to get hurt or somebody is going to get killed and it’s all going to be because we didn’t have another person out there to provide back up for somebody,” Bareis said. “So my hope and my prayer is to get this tax passed so I’ve got somebody backing somebody up when they are out there putting their life on the line because no one deserves to be out there by themselves.”
The “yes” or “no” public safety sales tax question will be on the Perry County ballot on election day, Tuesday, March 17.