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Morning Spin: Preckwinkle to show cards on hotel tax vote

Friday, November 13, 2015
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Topspin

It's Friday, Nov. 13, an unlucky date, according to the superstitious.

We should know by the end of the day whether Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has the votes to enact a 1 percent tax on hotels and motels, which would push the overall tax in Chicago to 17.4 percent.

Finance Committee Chairman John Daley, D-Chicago, has called for a 1 p.m. meeting to debate all the new revenue aspects of Preckwinkle’s proposed $4.5 billion budget for next year.

The most contentious is the hotel tax, which Preckwinkle formally unveiled a week ago after she could not muster sufficient votes to extend the county’s 3 percent amusement tax to cable TV and recreational activities such as bowling, golf and many for-profit sports leagues to raise about $20 million.

In contrast, the hotel tax is expected to raise about $31 million a year, but only $15.4 million next year because it wouldn’t go into effect until May. Preckwinkle said that will force her to make about $4 million in budget cuts.

The Finance Committee is considered a test vote because all 17 board members sit on it. Also up Friday is a bullet tax proposed by Commissioner Richard Boykin, D-Oak Park, to raise about $320,000 a year for public safety and health spending; a tax on the liquids used to fuel electronic cigarettes to raise about $1.5 million; and a $10 increase in court filing fees proposed by Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown to help pay for technology upgrades.

All those additional taxes and fees are being proposed after the board in July narrowly approved Preckwinkle’s penny-on-the-dollar increase in the sales tax, which will push the Chicago sales tax up to 10.25 percent, the highest rate of any major U.S. city, on Jan. 1. (Hal Dardick)



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