Henry County taxpayers will get a six-month reprieve from a public safety sales tax they approved in March thanks to an oversight that led to the tax never officially being put on the books.

Henry County taxpayers will get a six-month reprieve from a public safety sales tax they approved in March thanks to an oversight that led to the tax never officially being put on the books.

County Administrator Colleen Gillaspie confirmed that the county board mistakenly was never given the proper paperwork after the election that would have allowed the tax to be implemented.

“It never came before the board until following the deadline,” she said, adding the resolution was passed at the June meeting and has since been submitted to the Illinois Department of Revenue. The original submission deadline was May 31.

The half-cent sales tax was supposed to have gone into effect July 1.

But now that tax, which is expected to yield $1.4 million annually, won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, and the $750,000 the county was supposed to collect to shore up the sheriff’s office won’t come until revenues are distributed next July.

She said the additional tax money had not been budgeted yet, which means the paperwork mistake won’t affect the county’s day-to-day operations.

There is no legal mechanism that would allow the county to replace the lost revenue, she added.

But while taxpayers may be getting a break, Gillaspie said the mistake means the sheriff’s office will have to wait for the money a little longer.

“We’re missing out on six months of potential sales tax revenue,” she said.

When campaigning for the public safety tax prior to the March 20 election, county officials offered a long list of needs in the sheriff’s department, among them new vehicles and the replacement of electronic security systems at the county jail. Not having the tax, they said, could lead to further staff cuts and added fees to Henry County towns that use the county’s dispatching service.

“We have not spent any money in advance,” said Marshall Jones, who heads the county’s Public Safety Committee, and who accompanied Sheriff Kerry Loncka on the information tour prior to the election. “We didn’t want to spend money on something we didn’t have. We weren’t even sure (the tax) was going to go through.”

He said the recent purchase of two patrol cars was already budgeted and not part of the new money.

Once the tax does go into effect Jan. 1, the IDR will contact local business through a letter explaining the increase and how it should be implemented.

Gillaspie said each city in Henry County has a slightly different tax rate based on local tax collection.

She said county department heads have already met to discuss the issues that led to the mistake and will use it to help improve internal processes and communication.

“We have to be able to follow up on these important topics,” she said. “We have to ask more questions and communicate better.”

Jones said the county plans to bring the issue to the United Counties Council of Illinois to discuss and help other counties who may not have experience in special taxes to avoid making the same mistake.

“The state pointed out that it’s more common than you would think,” he said. “It puts this off for six months, and it’s a hard lesson to learn, but maybe we’ll try to help someone else.”