Voters in Madison and St. Clair counties apparently have no appetite for additional taxes, as they have rejected a total of three one-cent sales tax increases.
A Madison County proposal that would have helped schools with capital improvement projects went down 22,105 to 21,846, a difference of 259 votes and a slim margin of 50.3 to 49.7 percent.
St. Clair County voters appear to be sending a stronger “no new taxes” message on two ballot questions – one for schools and one for public safety.
According to the final results, the public safety referendum went down 24,069 to 14,290, a margin of 60 to 35 percent.
St. Clair County voters were more sympathetic to schools’ needs, though they nonetheless rejected a proposal similar to the referendum In Madison County: 21,921 to 16,503, or a margin of 54 to 41 percent.
Voter turnout in St. Clair County was just 23 percent.
There had been no shortage of opponents to all three measures, including State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R-Lebanon), who said voters should demand change in how government operates rather than to continue to give up their “hard earned money to maintain old fashioned out of date, inefficient systems of government.”
“Illinois taxing districts are constantly asking the taxpayers for more of their hard earned money to maintain old fashioned out of date inefficient systems of government rather than responding like the private sector in a free market,” he said in a previous interview.
One of the leading advocates of the public safety sales tax increase, St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, said the increase was necessary if the county hopes to improve economic development.
He said areas that have access to highways and waterways typically would be hotspots for economic development but are being overlooked by businesses and investors because of the perception that they are not safe based on the “disproportionate rate of crime.”
“If you want to help the county reach its full potential, you have to make it safe,” he said in a previous interview.