ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A tax increase voters in Winnebago County decided on a few months ago, may be put off for another year. The money is supposed go to River Bluff nursing home.
An official with the county says River Bluff has been in running in the red for the last few years, so the raise would generate more than two million dollars a year for the nursing home.
Burt Gerl, a Winnebago County board member, says “We never really thought about closing River Bluff. We really thought about ‘how do we pay for River Bluff?’”
Back in June, during primary elections, Winnebago County voters were faced with a question on the ballot regarding River Bluff nursing home. It asked whether citizens would support a tax increase for the nursing home, and they answered ‘yes’. Gerl believes there was confusion about the establishment being closed down.
“Closing River Bluff really never has been an option for us because it was created by a referendum back in the 1800s, it was the first poorhouse of Winnebago county. And it turned into River Bluff nursing home,” explains Gerl.
The assisted living facility has been struggling financially for the past few years, so at first the property tax hike seemed necessary, according to Gerl. But sales tax revenue exceeded what the county had projected, prompting the board to call an audible.
Gerl says, “We feel now with revenues that came in above projection, that we do not need a tax increase this year to pay for River Bluff. We’re more than adequately prepared to use our reserve funds to fund River Bluff.”
That’s why some boardmen are looking to put a hold on the tax increase for a least a year.
“Instead of asking people to pay more now, especially where inflation is at, people on a fixed income, a few dollars a month can actually mean the difference between a meal, buying prescriptions, or paying a few more dollars in taxes,” says Gerl.
Gerl adds that it is important to be mindful of how the county spends tax dollars. Right now, the money is going to everyday services like the courthouse, for example.