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Stroger is the latest to bug us with tax hike proposals

Sunday, October 21, 2007
Daily Southtown

The Issue: To prop up a proposed $3.2 billion budget and avoid making hard decisions, county board president seeks several tax hikes.
We say: We've had enough of these proposals. There's plenty of waste within the county that, if eliminated, could stave off these hikes.
Like a swarm of mosquitoes, tax hike proposals are coming at us with incessant force. About two weeks ago, we were assaulted by the breed known as the mayorus daley, which attacks within the boundaries of the city of Chicago. It seeks to remove money from homeowners, bottled-water users, telephone callers, alcohol imbibers and Taste of Chicago chompers, among others. Last week, we were attacked by the breed known as strogerus minor. This pest attacks throughout Cook County and has its sights set on gasoline users, parking lot patrons, merchandise buyers and property owners.
Both of these breeds zero in on the wallet, the purse, the bank account. They are attracted to money - someone else's. But they're also very good at getting under our skin. We try to repel them, but they keep coming back.
Recently on this page, we expressed our disdain for the tax proposals confined to the city. Now we also have to start swatting at the county proposals. They were unleashed Wednesday by Todd Stroger.
If only we could buy one of those backyard zappers and make these proposals go away. But it's not that easy. When conditions are just right, they're impossible to control. And these days the conditions are - sorry to say - perfect: misplaced priorities, poor leadership, fiscal irresponsibility, bloated payrolls with patronage jobs to protect, a lack of vision and compassion and numerous sycophants.
Bug spray? Long-sleeved shirts? Citronella candles? Sorry, they're not enough. The attack of the Cook County tax hike proposals has overwhelmed us.
Here are some of the proposals we're dealing with:
• A sales tax increase from .75 percent to 2.75 percent.
• A parking tax increase from about $20 a month to $40 a month.
• A gasoline tax increase from 6 cents a gallon to 12 cents a gallon.
• A 2.8 percent property tax increase to pay for the forest preserves.
By 2009, those new taxes reportedly could squeeze $888 million from taxpayers.
County Board President Stroger says these new taxes are necessary to help fund a proposed $3.2 billion budget (a proposed budget that contained numerous inconsistencies that officials chalked up to printing errors). That budget includes more than 1,100 new jobs. At a time when the county should be looking at jobs to cut - jobs that are unnecessary and jobs that are filled by people whose qualifications do not extend beyond their loyalty to the regular Democratic Party - Stroger is looking to add jobs. It's true: Too many vital health care jobs were cut last year, but there's no way the county needs 1,100 new employees.
Stroger says he's not wedded to these tax proposals. If someone can come up with another new tax scheme, he's all ears - as long as it doesn't require that he and his cronies have to tell precinct workers they must find honest jobs.
If all of this doesn't sufficiently bug you, then you deserve to get your pocket-picked. But if you're like the rest of us, you can't afford to keep turning over more of your paycheck to these so-called representatives of the people. You must attack these pests at the source. They nest at the county building, awaiting their next attack orders. It's time we did something about it. Call Stroger at (312) 603-6400, and tell him you've had it.

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