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Preckwinkle drops bullet tax, keeps gun tax

Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today dropped plans for a five-cent bullet tax, but still wants to charge a $25 tax on every gun purchase.

The compromise was negotiated over several days with Commissioners John Fritchey and Edwin Reyes, both Chicago Democrats, who had balked at the guns and ammo taxes.

In exchange for their support, Preckwinkle agreed to create a $2 million fund to combat gun violence. Fritchey had proposed dedicating $1.4 million to anti-gun violence efforts. She also agreed to exempt law-enforcement officers from having to pay the tax, which helped convince Reyes to support the plan.

An undetermined portion of the $2 million would be granted to “non-profits with a track record of effective violence prevention and community outreach.” About $100,000 would be used to crack down on illegal gun purchases.

An advisory board that will award the grants also would look at gun courts in other jurisdictions and come up with a recommendation for the county by July 1, Preckwinkle said.

Although Preckwinkle dropped immediate plans for the ammo tax of a nickel per bullet, she said the county will continue to look at the idea. As it was proposed, the taxes on some boxes of bullets would have been greater than the cost of the bullets themselves, Preckwinkle said.

The bullet tax was projected to raise $400,000 in revenue. The gun tax would raise $600,000, Budget Director Andrea Gibson said.

The revenue would help defray the cost of medical care for people who are shot and then treated at county-run, taxpayer subsidized Cook County Hospital. The hospital treats about 670 gunshot victims at year at an average cost of $52,000, Preckwinkle said.


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