PRINCETON — Bureau County's public safety sales tax referendum was defeated by only 10 votes, according to Tuesday's unofficial election results.
The final tally showed 3,525 "no" votes and 3,515 "yes" votes.
This means the county will not be able to move forward with plans to renovate the Bureau County Republican building into the law enforcement center, unless the 22 outstanding ballots are able to generate enough additional "yes" votes.
Bureau County Clerk Kami Hieronymus said those absentee ballots have 14 days to make their way to the courthouse.
Despite Tuesday's defeat, it seems the county will not give up on the proposal as the board plans to place the question on the ballot in the general election this November.
Bureau County Board member Keith Cain, who was chairman of the project committee, said Tuesday's results were disappointing, and he didn't think the county board would ask for a recount.
"We will be back in the fall to try it again, because these renovations can't be done without a stable revenue source, " Cain said.
He mentioned all the work Bureau County Board members and the sheriff's deputies put into educating the public through the public forums held across the county and the numerous tours provided at the jail and at the Bureau County Republican building, which the board voted to buy on Jan. 9 for $725,000.
During these events, county officials tried to state their case on why the project was a necessity for the county. They explained the overcrowding issues at the jail and pointed out the numerous codes for which the current 45-year-old jail facility is in violation.
Bureau County Sheriff Jim Reed said he still believes the county's plan is the most fiscally responsible for taxpayers. The $12 million renovations are less than building a new facility, which was estimated to cost $15 million, and repairing obsolete facilities is a problem, he said.
In the months leading up to November, Reed said he is eager to sit down with the county board and move forward on another plan.
"I think we did our best in the short amount of time we had to educate everyone on this referendum. Apparently, we need to continue to do that," he said Tuesday evening.
Reed said he is also still interested in seeing what kind of impact the absentee ballots have on the final outcome of the election.