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Sales, gas and parking tax hikes in Stroger budget proposal
Plan would help pay for 1,000 new employees

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger today proposed more than tripling the county's share of sales taxes and doubling the gas and parking taxes to fund a $3.2 billion budget for 2008 that would add 1,000 employees to the payroll.

Stroger said the increase in county workers to 24,841 is needed to boost staffing at the jail, juvenile detention center and the hospital system.

In his budget speech to county commissioners this morning, Stroger said he remains "open to suggestions" but made it clear that the county must raise taxes.
Stroger called the county's structural deficit, the imbalance between revenue and expenses, "the elephant in the room."

He had backed away from an attempt two weeks ago to persuade commissioners to increase the sales tax by 2 percentage points, from 0.75 percent to 2.75 percent. At the time, Stroger suggested he might settle for a smaller increase.

But in his budget, Stroger returned to the plan for a boost that would push the combined sales tax in Chicago to 11 percent, the highest of any major city in the country.

Stroger's plan would double the county's portion of the gas tax from 6 cents per gallon to 12 cents per gallon. He also proposed doubling the tax on drivers who use public parking garages, which is based on a complicated rate schedule.

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