Referendum for mental health sales tax heads to full Winnebago County Board vote

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- Addressing the need for stronger mental health services in the Stateline, the Winnebago County Board Committees meet to discuss a potential referendum that would fund key initiatives for those in need.

"So, we're faced with a situation that frankly, is costing lives."

The Winnebago County Finance Committee approves the first step in a referendum that would end up on the March primary ballot, adding a half a cent sales tax to fund mental health services in the Rockford region.

"When you start talking about a quarter, a half-cent sales tax, you're talking about millions of dollars, it's a serious discussion, it's a very important issue. Very few people would question whether or not there's a need for mental services and the subsequent funding that follows that," said Winnebago County Chairperson Frank Haney.

As a member of the Behavioral Health Committee, Paul Logli says the loss of Singer Mental Facility more than seven years ago, the close to $12 million it could potentially bring in would transform what already exists.

"We certainly want to replace the services that were lost to the people of Winnebago County and there are people in mental health crisis that are simply being turned away because there aren’t sufficient beds or personnel to deal with them," said Logli.

This new referendum comes with a sunset clause after six years to ensure the work is heading in the right direction.

The referendum now moves to the county board for a full vote on December 19th.