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Preckwinkle tweaks proposed tax on merchandise purchased outside Cook County

Monday, October 29, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Monday she’s tweaking her proposed new tax on merchandise purchased outside of Cook County.

Earlier this month she pitched a new 1.25 percent “use tax” on items — from lumber to televisions — worth $2,500 or more that residents and businesses purchase outside the county; the tax wouldn’t apply to titled property.

But Monday, she bumped the threshholed to $3,500. The aim of the proposed new tax is to get county businesses and residents to buy items they’ll use locally.

During a press conference at the county building Monday, she said that while the tax doesn’t affect every Cook County resident, it offers incentives to “those who are spending money on major purchases such as office equipment and software, major home remodeling or luxury items.”

“This change will provide businesses and residents with more leeway to purchase goods throughout the year,” Preckwinkle said. “Today we’re sending a message that county government is making it easier for local businesses to thrive in our own communities.”

The proposal, which will require the approval of county commissioners, is part of a nearly $3 billion budget proposal she unveiled earlier this month.

Preckwinkle also announced an increase to the county’s Local Business Preference, which gives an increased preference to local companies when bids are made for county projects. The preference for companies with the majority of their workforce in Cook County will increase from the current 2 percent to 5 percent for the goods and services the county purchases.

“We want to enhance the ability of local businesses to compete against out-of-state or out-of-country businesses,” Preckwinkle said of the program.

Preckwinkle was joined at the press conference by leaders of local business organizations, including John Rogers, the chairman and CEO of Ariel Investments and a co-chair of Preckwinkle’s Council of economic advisors, as well as Cook County commissioners John Daley, Jerry Butler, Jesus Garcia and Deborah Sims.

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