Sheriff urges 'yes' on public safety referendum - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Sheriff urges 'yes' on public safety referendum

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PERRY CO., Ill. -- Sheriff Steve Bareis is concerned about potential layoffs and the condition of the jail following a $2 million dollar drop in state funding over the past five years. 

Bareis has already put $30,000  from specialty funds into repairs, "We’ve actually seen some of our rafters break. I had a roofer go in and have to restabilize several of our rafters." 

However, he says, there's still more work to be done, "There’s an entire area of our roof that needs to be tended to and without that attention, we’re going be in dire straits." 

In order to help fund the project and maintain law enforcement services, the county is putting a public safety referendum on April's Ballot. It's a half-cent sales tax on goods sold in the county. 

Bareis says the department cannot make any more budget cuts after already losing money tied to the drop in state funding. He fears that if the referendum does not pass, the jail will continue to deteriorate and it could mean potential lay offs that will impact residents. 

"That's going to mean cuts in crime response time. It's gong to mean cuts in the area of being able to house those that we should be able to house," he explains. 

Bareis says keeping the jail in operation is critical for local departments since it houses their inmates. If the facility were to close, inmates would have to be be transported to Jefferson or Washington County and there would be a fee of about $55 per inmate each day. Plus, the jail would lose federal funding.

"A loss of federal funding from housing federal inmates as well as the cost of holding our own inmates somewhere else," He adds. "It could be devastating financially." 

If the referendum passes, the company that the jail gets its bonds from would write them a check for $1.6 million. 

The money would be paid back with the sales tax. Leaders would then decide whether to keep the tax or not. 

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