The Henry County public safety tax referendum returns to the ballot in next week’s general primary election.

The Henry County public safety tax referendum returns to the ballot in next week’s general primary election.

After previous failed attempts to pass the referendum — the most recent a 12,340 to 11,547 vote in opposition in November 2016 — the public safety sales tax once again comes before the voters of Henry County.

County residents go to the polls Tuesday, March 20, and in a primary election with very few contested races, the public safety tax garners the majority of voting attention.

The referendum is asking voters to approve an increase of local sales taxes by one-half percent — meaning the consumer would pay an additional 50 cents in sales tax for every $100 of taxable items purchased. The primary areas the increase would be noticed are meals at restaurants and hotel stays, while groceries, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and the purchase of cars, boats and motorcycles are exempt.

The money from the public safety sales tax can only be used for crime prevention, police, medical ambulance, firefighting, detention and other emergency services.

“It’s very minimal, but it can do wonders for the county,” said Henry County Sheriff Kerry Loncka of the public safety tax in an interview with Claudia Loucks when he was sworn into office July 21, 2017. “That’s one of the things we’re looking at as a source of revenue.”

The Galva City Council and Alpha Village Board recently passed resolutions in favor of adopting the public safety tax referendum.

“This will benefit the county and Alpha, and it’s about as minimal as it can be,” Alpha Mayor Dean Kernan said.

The Galva City Council resolution read — "If this is not passed and we have to pay, Galva is going to have to make some big changes. Galva should support this. Everyone is encouraged to get out to the polls on March 20."

If the tax does not pass, every town in Henry County that has its own police protection —  with the exception of Geneseo and Kewanee, who have their own dispatchers — will have to pay a fee to Henry County. Galva’s dispatch fees will be $80,320.

Galva Police Chief Kraig Townsend said Henry County is the only county in the area that is not receiving dispatch fees.

For more information on the Henry County public safety tax referendum, visit the county’s website — PublicSafetyTax.