Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos will hold a final town hall meeting Wednesday night to push for a half-cent sales tax increase. Bustos is hoping voters will go for it voluntarily this election day, while some officials are saying that's not likely to happen.
Local 4 News has spoken to multiple people at Rock Island County, both board members and employees. Everyone is hoping voters say yes to this referendum, but where the difference of opinion comes in is whether or not they think voters will willingly vote to raise taxes.
Local 4 News spoke to Rock Island County board member Don Johnston. He agrees that if the sales tax referendum passes, it would be the most pain-free way to fund the sheriff's department. However, Johnston simply doesn't think voters will feel the same way.
"I think the people are just so fed up with taxes of all kinds. They hear the word 'tax' and they don't even want to talk about what it's for," Johnston said.
Sheriff Bustos has been advocating for the half cent sales tax vote for months. He, and most of the county board, agree raising sales tax is the easiest way to create enough money to keep the sheriff's department from having to make massive cuts.
"We certainly have money issues here in the county, and I as a sheriff am doing everything I can to help out in relieving those issues, but there are certain things that we have to do and providing public safety to everybody, to all the citizens in the county, is paramount" Bustos said in an August county board meeting.
Johnston says the county should be finding a plan B in case the vote doesn't pass.
"I'm afraid of what happens to us if this thing doesn't pass, which it may or may not, but if it doesn't, I don't want to be sitting there just not knowing what to do, and talking about all these layoffs. Frankly, these layoffs aren't going to happen," Johnston said.
Sheriff Bustos' final town hall will be held at the Rapids City Village hall at 1204 Fourth Ave. Rapids City.
It starts at 6:30 p.m.
It's your last chance to ask questions about what this tax increase would mean for the county. Raising the sales tax in Rock Island County by a half-cent will be up to voters, this election day.
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