Knox County is asking voters to create a new tax to help pay for local mental health care services.
The county board unanimously agreed to place the referendum on the ballot. The tax would be assessed on property, so a person with a home valued at $79,000 would see an increase of about $40 on their property tax bill.
The county estimated the tax will raise around $1 million annually. The money would be allocated by a 708 mental health board to mental health care agencies and services in most need. Those agencies could include, for example, KCCDD, Bridgeway, and DD Homes.
"Many non-profit organizations are doing a great job. But their resources are limited, and there are a lot of people that fall through the cracks. They need help," said Doug Mustain, who led a committee that researched the county’s mental health care needs.
Mustain said the committee also found that people who need mental health care services sometimes end up in the county jail instead of receiving help.
If the referendum is approved, the county board would appoint members to a 708 board. 708 boards are named after the resolution number of the 1963 Illinois House bill that led to the creation of community mental health boards.
Mustain said 708 boards can assist with issues other than mental health. He said a 708 board could also provide funding to help people with drug and alcohol abuse problems and development disabilities.