Cook County sales tax increase proposed
September 18, 2007 (WLS) -- One Cook County commissioner wants to increase the county's portion of the sales tax, and if approved, the sales tax in Cook County would go up to 11 percent. That tax increase would also apply to restaurant and hotel bills.
Cook County Commissioner Joan Patricia Murphy said the additional tax revenue would be used to avoid another crisis when it is time to come up with next year's budget.
It appears everything is on the table as Cook County commissioners prepare for next year's budget. The last time they called for a sales tax increase was 1992. Some commissioners say it is time to get help. But retailers are saying, look elsewhere.
It looks like the board of county commissioners has had enough job cuts throughout the county, including their own staff. They're looking at a gap in the 2008 budget.
"We just need to do something other than cut jobs if we want to maintain services to our residents," Commissioner Murphy said.
The proposal asks for increases in service and sales taxes. To retailers in Chicago, that means a sales tax would go from nine percent to 11 percent. Some are concerned that an even greater tax will send tourists and shoppers elsewhere.
"We have retailers and restaurants all over the country trying to take market share away from North Michigan Avenue," said John Maxson, Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. "Frankly, this is the kind of thing that really is detrimental to the city as a whole."
The commissioner said it would have little effect on the bottom line for retailers and restaurants and hotels.
"Cook County is a destination place," said Murphy. "We have great conventions and conferences here. The sales tax is going up 2 ¾ percent. That's not a back-breaking increase."
The commissioner agreed something needs to be done.
"If they support some other revenue increase, then, that could help fill the gap. But maybe we still would need a sales tax, but as stated maybe not two percent, maybe 2.5 percent. We need to make sure we keep the system going," said County Board President Todd Stroger.
The proposals now go to the board's finance committee next month, and eventually there will be hearings, and people will have plenty to say.
The two-percent increase comes on top of the nine percent, which is almost a 30 percent increase in the sales tax.
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