Winnebago County mental health sales tax question moves to March ballot

WINNEBAGO COUNTY (WREX) — Voters in Winnebago County will decide in March whether they want to raise the sales tax to support mental health services in the county.

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The board voted 16 to 2 to put a referendum on the March 2020 ballot that would ask voters if they want to increase the sales tax by half a percentage point. That would raise the sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.75 percent.

Board Chairman Frank Haney says, according to historical data, the tax would generate between $12 million and $13 million. Haney says while state funding for mental health services has significantly decreased, the need has not, saying mental health issues have “decimated” the county but this tax would help.

Haney says with this tax the county could take care of mental health issues on the front-end, as opposed to dealing with them in the courts and jails.

However, board members who opposed the idea said they only read over this idea for the first time last week and needed more time to review the issue. Some urged this issue should wait until the November 2020 ballot.

This report will be updated.

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