KANKAKEE COUNTY, Ill. – Mental health care advocates in Kankakee County have proposed a sales tax increase to fund better mental health services in the area. County officials have approved a referendum for the proposed tax increase, which will be placed on the ballot on April 4.
The proposed .25% countywide retail sales tax increase would generate around $3 million annually to be used solely for mental health services for county residents. The Community Foundation of Kankakee River Valley initiative, Project SUN, along with a coalition of community mental health care advocates, is behind the effort to get the referendum passed.
The coalition gathered 1,148 signatures through an online petition and traditional signatures on paper. While the referendum faced some opposition from board members questioning the procedure to get the referendum on the ballot, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe supported the legality of the board-initiated referendum.
Mental health care advocates have expressed that residents have identified mental health as a priority, and local youth are experiencing a mental health crisis. The proposed tax increase would provide additional revenue to improve mental health services and support law enforcement officials.
If passed, the proposed .25% increase on sales tax would mean a consumer would pay an additional .25 cents in sales tax for every $100 of tangible personal property bought at retail. The referendum requires a simple majority of votes to pass.
Mental health advocates are hopeful that the voters of Kankakee County will see this as an opportunity to address the mental health crisis in their community and vote “yes” to the referendum. If passed, general sales tax in Kankakee County would be raised from 6.25% to 6.50%.
The referendum for the proposed mental health purposes sales tax increase is the most pressing issue on this April’s ballot, which aims to prioritize the mental health of Kankakee County residents.