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After property tax hike, Rock Island County could raise sales tax

MOLINE, Illinois -- The Rock Island County Board is moving to raise its sales tax, just days after having voted to increase property taxes by 8.9 percent.

County administrator Jim Snider tells News 8 that staff is working on put a proposal for board members to review in December. If they approve, the vote hike will go be put to a referendum for voters to decide in the March 2020 primary election.

"If approved by voters, we can provide property tax relief as well," he said, explaining that the increased revenue would go towards paying for public safety expenditures, but would allow the county to shift funds from its general fund to reduce the property tax bill for homeowners.

He said the county is looking at a one percent sales tax increase, bringing the sales tax from 6.25 percent to 7.25 percent. The county currently receives a quarter percent of the sales tax.

"The County has major financial problems. But they’re planning, next year, to put on a referendum asking for a public safety tax, which really is a sales tax," said County Board Member Don Johnston.

He said having passed the property tax increas would make it harder to get a sales tax referendum passed, even if it would help relief the property tax burden for homeowners.

He voted on Tuesday against the property tax increase, siding with the minority in the 12 to 9 vote to hike property taxes.

"The quarter cent sales tax brings about $3.5 million a year," he explained. "If [the county] raised it just a quarter cent, it would bring in another 3.5 million in theory. If they raised it it half a percent it would bring in another $7 million in theory, so that would really help the county, where increasing property taxes time and time again does not."

Though he was inclined to support a sales tax hike, he was cautious about its prospects: "You’re not gonna get this tax on a referendum if you’re gonna continuously raise property taxes."

"It’s gonna be really tough to pass it."

Residents like Don Lind may prove him right.

Lind said he doesn't believe a sales tax increase will help him and other homeowners. Already, he is angry at the nearly 9 percent property tax hike.

"We’re just being penalized by living in Illinois," he said. "With this 8.9 percent, we’re gonna be paying about $5500 a year in property tax."

Lind said he and several other frustrated homeowners have geared up for a fight. They have formed a group working to replace those that voted for the property rate hike.

"What we’re trying to do is fight back. There’s gotta be a stop somewhere," he said. "In 2020, there’s some seats opening up, [We have] four people running for alderman. That’s the only way we can do it. You’ve gotta change the people that are gonna fight for the community. What I see now is that by raising property taxes, these people they’re not fighting for the community."

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