Last-minute maneuvering by the Cook County Board last night prevented major budget cuts in county services and health care in the county that includes the City of Chicago. But the cost to consumers across the county, and here in Chicago, was steep.
As a compromise to Cook County Board of Commissioners Todd Stroger's five-month-old proposal to increase the county share of the State of Illinois Sales Tax to 2.75%, the Board voted 9 to 7 to increase the county's tax share to 1.75%, up 133% from it's current level of 0.75%. The tax increase takes effect July 1.
Suburban Cook County Consumers will see their sales tax on non-food items increase to a minimum of 9.0%, from the current rates starting at 7.5% in most suburban Chicago municipalities. (The State of Illinois, in January, approved a separate 0.5% increase in the state's share of the sales tax, to fund mass transit, and the Chicago Transit Authority, in and around Chicago).
Here in the City of Chicago, however, the Chicago Sales Tax will total 10.25%- the highest of any major city in the country, substantially exceeding sales taxes in Los Angeles and New York City.
The tax increase program approved last night by the Cook County Board preceded a state-mandated midnight deadline. If no county budget and funding program were approved by last night, state courts would have had to order continuation of emergency and health care related programs throughout the county.
Also included was a doubling of the tax for those with monthly parking arrangements in public garages throughout the county (but mainly impacting monthly parkers in Downtown Chicago). Stroger's earlier proposal to double the county's share of it's 6 cent per gallon gasoline tax - highest in the U.S. - was dropped.
The tax increases approved will generate $456 Million in additional revenue each year for Cook County. The Board also agreed to cut its budget this year - originally proposed for $3.3 Billion - by 4% overall. There will be no cuts in the Cook County Health Care System. Taken with with the approved tax increases, the budget cuts would eliminate a $234 Million projected budget deficit for the county fiscal year that began last December 1.
County Commissioner Larry Suffredin (D-Evanston), who provided the critical swing vote in passage of the tax increase proposals, scoffed at concerns by critics that the tax increases will drive business away from Cook County and Chicago. "I've heard them say that for 30 years, and I look downtown and I only see cranes," Suffredin said.
Please visit our Team Blog Center - BlogChicagoHomes.com- for more on this story, as well as a link to Hal Dardick's article in today's edition of The Chicago Tribune.
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