In Henry County, the fourth time was a charm for the public safety sales tax referendum.

In Henry County, the fourth time was a charm for the public safety sales tax referendum.

During the Tuesday, March 20 election, voters approved the measure 4,483 to 2,860.

The one-half of 1 percent sales tax increase is expected to generate approximately $1.4 million a year to be used exclusively for public safety services.

Public safety sales tax supporters said the Henry County Sheriff’s Department is stretched-to-the limit with personnel shortages and aging equipment.

At times, staff shortage can mean only two deputies are patrolling all of Henry County’s 827 square miles.

Henry County Sheriff Kerry Loncka said county officials made the extra effort to tell voters what was at stake with the tax, which included improving staffing levels and upgrading old equipment.

“We really had a grass roots effort and it really paid off,” he said. “We communicated the issues with all of the cities in Henry County. To get that support has been fantastic.”

The sales tax is similar to a school facilities sales tax approved by Henry County voters in 2013. It does not apply to groceries, farm equipment, vehicle purchase or prescription medication.

As opposed to a property tax increase which relies only on local residents, a sales tax increase applies to anyone shopping in Henry County — including travelers off the interstate, visitors to the area and employees who work in the county but live elsewhere.

The new sales tax will go into effect on July 1, said Henry County Administrator Colleen Gillaspie.

Funds will be collected by the Illinois Department of Revenue and then distributed to the county.

“We expect to receive our first disbursement in October,” she said.

Originally, public safety sales tax supporters had hoped the tax would bring in roughly $1.5 million a year.

“However, within the last year, the state imposed an administrative fee, which dips into the amount we receive. We’ve reduce our estimate to between $1.4 and $1.45 million,” said Gillaspie.