ST. CLAIR, IL (KMOX) – In about a month, Saint Clair County voters will be asked to approve a one percent sales tax increase for public safety needs.
Over the weekend, union members at the sheriff’s department and county jail joined other volunteers in some neighborhood ‘door-knocking’.
Kiwan Guyton, a sheriff’s deputy and president of his local FOP lodge, says union figures show Saint Clair County sheriff’s department staffing is down twenty percent, while crimes are up five percent or more.
“Businesses are not going to come to St. Clair County if there is not adequate pubic safety, period,” he says.
Jailer Rodney Wilson says money could be used for hiring more officers, as well as increasing jail capacity to keep dangerous offenders off the streets.
“We’re at a minimum staff, we’re over crowded, its people in the floor, in the gym, we’re back to overcrowded with inmates and we’ve got few officers. It creates tensions and people get hurt,” he says.
A quarter of the money raised annually would go to local public safety departments within Saint Clair County to spend on their needs. Supporters say the revenue could only be spent for needs such as more police on the street, equipment upgrades, increased jail space, and more probation officers.
Opponents say the sales tax rate is already high enough.
“If you pay for a ten dollar lunch that’s an extra dime that’s going to public safety, if you get a twenty five dollar dinner for you and your wife, that’s an extra quarter,” says James Daniels, representative for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council and its members within the Belleville-based sheriff’s department.