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Cook County sales tax: Todd Stroger vetoes 2nd rollback attempt
Stroger blocks board's 2nd attempt to reverse unpopular increase

Saturday, May 23, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

For the second time in less than two weeks, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger preserved a controversial penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase.

He vetoed the latest attempt by commissioners to roll back the tax hike on Friday afternoon, as many of his constituents were focused on the long Memorial Day weekend -- or already out of town.

"Why would he do it on the Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend?" asked Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who suggested Stroger was trying to avoid any further negative reaction to his support for the tax.

Stroger's latest veto was aimed at a tax rollback approved 10-7 by the board on Tuesday. Moments earlier, commissioners had failed to muster the 14 votes needed to over Stroger's earlier veto of a different attempt at cutting the sales tax increase.

The latest measure would have rolled back three fourths of the tax increase on Jan. 1 -- and the remaining fourth a year later. The previous attempt to cut back the sales tax, approved two weeks earlier, would have ended the entire tax increase on Jan. 1.

Stroger's opponents have vowed to continue introducing rollback measures, which could keep the issue alive for months as Stroger and commissioners begin to make formal announcements of their intentions for next year's elections. Stroger's job of board president and all 17 commissioner seats are at stake.

Stroger says the county can afford to roll back the tax by one fourth of a penny on Jan. 1 but cannot afford to go any further without decimating the county's public health and safety systems.

"I support reducing the county's sales tax; however, I object to radical reductions without understanding the ramifications of such action," Stroger said in his veto documents.

"We're just going to continue to stand up for the taxpayers as President Stroger continues to disregard the will of the voters and the businesses," said Commissioner Elizabeth Gorman (R-Orland Park), who introduced the measure that was vetoed Friday.

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