Friday, March 30, 2007

Use of Public Safety Sales Tax

Use of the Public Safety Sales Tax:

• The Public Safety Sales Tax was passed by the voters in November 1996, collections began 1 year later.
• 1/4% on all sales except titled goods - estimated $4,660,750 in 2007.
• General Assembly gave Counties this permissive authority due to the fact that County Government is responsible for administering the criminal justice and corrections system in Illinois.
• Peoria County passed the tax based on the need to build a new juvenile detention center, to expand the jail, and to build an outdoor warning system similar to the City of Peoria for the areas of the County that did not have a warning system in place.
• Public Safety Sales Tax expenditures have been limited to Crime Prevention Grants, Emergency Management, Sheriff and Probation/Detention services
• 66% of the County General Fund is dedicated to Justice and Public Safety expenditures.
• According to the Illinois State Police UCR Crime Reports for 2005, 4 out 5 crimes occurring in Peoria County occur in the City of Peoria:
Total Crime Index* 2004 % of Total 2005 % of Total
City of Peoria 8,029 79.6% 8,604 78.3%
All Others 2,055 20.4% 2,382 21.7%
Total 10,084 100% 10,986 100.0%
*Crime In Illinois, 2005, Illinois State Police, p. 143-144
• The Supreme Court has consistently reduced the salary reimbursements required by law over the last several years for probation officers and juvenile detention workers. While the caseload has not reduced, the reliance on local funding (public safety tax dollars) for probation and juvenile detention workers has increased.
• The Sheriff's Office has a budget for 2007 of $13,964,589 and revenue of $3,424,024. Other general revenue sources (property, sales, and income taxes) fund the $10,540,565 shortfall between revenues and expenses. Further, the Corrections division of the Sheriff's Office has a budget for 2007 of $5,523,741 and revenue of $1,198,158 for just operations and staffing, leaving a shortfall of $4,325,583 supported by the counties general revenue sources.
• The City and County each operate Emergency Management Agencies. An effort was made to consolidate under Peoria County in 2003, and this was rejected by the City of Peoria. Peoria County's obligation for emergency services is only for the areas outside of the City of Peoria. The City of Peoria retains the obligation and the duty for Emergency Management Services within the City of Peoria.
• Currently Peoria County spends the public safety sales tax receipts as follows:
o Crime Prevention Grants - $30,000 (0.64%)
o Emergency Management Sirens - $142,420 (3.05%)
o Juvenile Detention Operating Subsidy - $621,966 (13.34%)
o Jail/Juvenile Detention Debt Service - $1,812,125 (38.88%)
o Public Safety Operating Subsidy - $2,033,683 (43.63%)
o Total Public Safety Sales Tax Receipts $4,660,750
o The Peoria Fire Department has the best equipped and probably trained Hazardous Materials team for this area, it is my understanding the City asked to be that body. To my knowledge to date the only time they assisted the County was on an incident at Mapleton.

There may be a question as to who all should be involved in paying for the 911 dispatch systems. Someone may wish to post a comment with further information.

Possibly the best way to handle some of the decisions made that affect both the City and the County would be to combine all the functions that are feasible and that financially benefit all the citizens of Peoria County.

In my position as a County Board member, I listen to the concerns of the residents who reside in Peoria County and have also the interests of the entire area in all my decisions. I doubt if any elected official is more transparent in my public dealings.

As a member of the County Liaison Team with the City, I will do my best to try to determine every body’s best interests before going public and have both the City and the County defending their positions on TV or in the media or on the web. The County has a request to the City to meet as soon as possible.

For more information on this subject, you may wish to access

As to the booking financial distribution, I have answered this question on previous blogs and the City is apparently satisfied as agreements as drawn are still being honored by both parties.


Anonymous said...

As little as I have to do with Peoria County, you definitely do seem to be in touch. Do your best, is all I can say, and don't fall under Dubya's spell.

Sorry if I misunderestimated you.

Good to see you're still around, anyway!

C. J. Summers said...

Merle, you said, "The City and County each operate Emergency Management Agencies. An effort was made to consolidate under Peoria County in 2003, and this was rejected by the City of Peoria."

Can you provide more info on this? I can find no information in the Journal Star archives on this. I did find where the city and county were trying to consolidate the election commissions during 2003. Can you provide any specific dates when action was taken or provide any leads on newspaper coverage of this? Thanks!

Merle Widmer said...

C. J.,

I think your heading on your site condemning the County for not cooperating with the City and insinuating we don't represent the City as being part our duty, was unsubstantiated. My 6 years on the County Board shows the County has always taken the lead in cooperating with the City.

As to the combining the election Commissions into one unit, the County, where it is suspossed to reside by State Statute, was a no brainer. I wrote a letter to the Editor on outlining the saving of more than $200,000.00 a year to the taxpayer but the city was only interested in money they could collect and spend for themselves. Ray LaHood said combining it was a no brainer. I also blogged in detail on my site.
My letter to the editors appeared on 2/28/04. The JSEB said "Council can't be serious about finding efficiencies" appearing in the JS on 2/24/04. The JSEB said "Every time a proposal that that promises to help City Hall streamlines operations or eliminate the duplications of some service or build a bridge to some other vovernmental body, city representatives seem to find a way to deep-six it." On 7/17/04 the JSEB said wrote an editorial worth your reading titled "Committee (Peoria County Consolidation Exploration Committee) says it needs support of city's leaders dated 7/10/04."

The referendum to combine the election commissions was led by the LWV on recommendations of a committee. I recommend you join as it is open to men also and could use more leadership. The City Election Committee fought it furiously and one Commissioner was charged and found guilty and removed from the Commission. Much about the City Election Commision has been appearing in print recently.

The JS does not cover the County like they do the City and some of what they cover is done with less than "skilled journalists".

To get more details on your question, call Patrick Urich at 672-6056 as our proposal was stopped dead by Interim City Manager Ewert and Grayeb who pounded his fist in saying that would not happen while he is on the Council.

Thank goodness, he will soon be gone!!

To know more about what the County does I suggest you attend some meetings since we are not on TV. Have you ever attended a committee or full board meeting? They are all open to the public. (By the way, the City/County Health Department name is not correct. It is the Peoria County Health Department.) Look it up.

precinct committeeman said...


If want to tackle a consolidation try the school system outside the city of Peoria, there is the first step in making a step toward county consolidation of services.