Massac County Commission Board future for courthouse funding

Massac County, Illinois, leaders are looking at how to fund needed improvements to the county courthouse after a proposed sales tax increase failed on the November ballot. 

The Massac County Commission Board needs to do two things to get the courthouse up to state standards.

  1. Prevent leaking by repairing rood and tuck-pointing cracks.
  2. Remove mold, asbestos from isolated rooms.

To try to pay for that, county leaders proposed two ultimately failed attempts at a 1 percent sales tax increase. The ballot item was voted down twice. There are three options moving forward that could save the courthouse and possibly save jobs.

  1. If a recount next Monday of the November ballot item that failed by two votes finds more yes votes than no votes, the 1 percent tax to be enacted.
  2. The county could borrow up to 80 percent from property tax revenue to make repairs.
  3. It could make 15 percent budget cuts, which would include cutting two positions at the local sheriff’s office and one at county clerk’s office.

The mold and asbestos removal will be paid for through a tort fund that already exists within the County.

Debbie Crockett attended the board meeting Tuesday to express spending concerns. She claims her paperwork from the Illinois Department of Revenue show 1.6 million in additional revenue from the state from 2014 to present. Her question to the board was simply “where the money has gone to?” She added the 1.6 million is “one third of what you needed for the courthouse.”

While the board members assured Crockett they’d review her findings and get back to get with an answer, County Clerk Juanita Wedeking-Newberry tells me many of those months the state was making up for lost tax revenue the county was entitled to. The board members even discussed how much better the state revenue has gotten “at one time it was six or eight months” Board Chairman Jeff Weber said.

Crockett thinks the surplus should mean a property tax cut. But, the board discussed the possibility of borrowing from the pot to save the courthouse and hopefully get their December deadline extended from the State.

Wedeking-Newberry doesn’t think the recount Monday will result in any change. She says the paper ballots will be re-run through machines. 

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