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Cook Co. board votes to roll back sales tax

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
ABC7 Chicago
by Charles Thomas

For the third time, the Cook County Board has voted to cut the 1 percent sales increase that was pushed through by President Todd Stroger.

Stroger vetoed the earlier rollbacks.

This time there may be enough votes to override a veto.

If all 14 commissioners who say they support the repeal hold true to their word, then after January 1, 2010 Cook County shoppers will pay a half cent per dollar less for taxable items.

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, who doesn't want the repeal, heard his administration get credit on Tuesday for making it possible.

When the votes were counted, there were 12 to repeal half of the 1 cent sales tax increase, three not to repeal with two commissioners absent.

"I always felt that the half percent was the ultimate compromise, not just because I introduced it but because it was the best and equitable solution," said Commissioner Elizabeth Doody-Gorman, (R) Orland Park.

And the absent commissioners, Claypool and Peraica, are longtime tax increase opponents. They presumably would join the 'yes' voters to form a veto-proof repeal that would become effective on January 1, 2010 - just in time for the primary elections.

"The tax, as the media has constantly put it, has been a horrific impact on our residents. And by taking it down by half a point it should have the opposite effect," said Commissioner Joan Murphy, (D) Crestwood.

Board president Todd Stroger, who spearheaded the tax increase effort 17 months ago and vetoed two earlier attempts to repeal it, was credited by some anti-tax board members for helping put the county's financial house in relative order.

"The relief that we're giving here we can give because we're in pretty good shape," Commissioner Larry Suffredin, (D) Evanston.

"The state's in terrible shape. The city's in terrible shape. They all have to do something to get themselves to the point in which we are," said Stroger.

"This is all feel-good. What this is going to do for the average person's pocket is very little," said Commissioner Jerry Butler, (D) Chicago.

Only Butler, Moreno and Beavers voted against the repeal. They fear cuts in the public healthcare system and a resurgent budget deficit without all the sales tax revenue. But the anti-taxers say the new plan to deal with deficit is to require county-wide elected office holders to cut their budgets by 10 percent.

"They are going to have to come to this board and say to the taxpayers that they will accept this 10 percent or not," said Commissioner John Daley, (D) Finance Committee chairman.

If Stroger does attempt to veto, the board cannot vote to override him until the next meeting in September.

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