Cook County Residents Granted Temporary Reprieve
October 5, 2007
In what could be a short term stay-of-execution, the Cook County Commissioners were deadlocked this week, eight votes for and eight against a two percentage point increase in the county-wide sales tax rate.
The county rate is currently 0.75 percent and the increase would bring the rate to 2.75 percent, more than triple the current rate.
Chicagoans currently pay 9.0 percent on all their purchases when the state rate of 6.25 percent, the city rate of 2.0 percent and the 0.75 percent county rate are combined. 9.0 percent is already one of the highest rates in the country, and the proposed 2.0 percent increase would push the total rate in Chicago to 11.0 percent.
The reprieve from the tax increase is only temporary because the commissioners will take up the tax hike again October 16 and the president of the commission, Todd Stroger, may vote to break the tie. From the Chicago Tribune:
Stroger went so far as to say he’d cast a rare tie-breaking vote for the tax hike if need be to fill a projected $307 million budget shortfall for 2008.
Stroger supported the tax hike, saying it would give the county enough revenue-$750 million annually-to avoid coming back to the taxpayers every year seeking more money.
The $750 million increase is a massive tax hike that will largely be paid by lower-income individuals and will hurt businesses in the county that will see their customers travel to adjacent counties or use the internet to make their purchases.
Cook County would be well advised to cut spending to close its budget gap, rather than go through with this enormous tax hike that will damage its economy by driving consumers, residents and businesses away.