For five months, Cook County commissioners had been debating over how to balance the county’s $3.2 billion budget. In the eleventh hour before a government shutdown they decided–raise taxes. In a slight adjustment to Board President Todd Stroger’s recommendation, the board agreed to hike the county sales tax from 0.75 percent to 1.75 percent. The increase is projected to raise nearly a half a billion dollars per year.
When the tax increase takes effect in November, Chicago will have the highest total sales tax of any major city in the nation at 10.25 percent. Other cities such as New York City and Los Angeles have rates below 8.5 percent. Contributing to the high rate is the 0.25 percentage point increase in Cook County approved earlier this year by the General Assembly to help fund transit in Chicago.
Despite these high numbers, many people breathed a sign of relief when the budget passed and applauded the Board for finally reaching a compromise and preventing a government shutdown. But some critics have pointed the finger at Todd Stroger accusing him of an unwillingness to bargain and causing a prolonged stalemate.
They point out that when he ran for County Board President he promised to shrink the county budget but has failed to address the inefficiencies in county operations. Others have expressed concern over the impact of the rate increases.
Is the sales tax hike justified? Will it chase businesses and jobs away from the county? Will consumers go outside of Cook County to make purchases? Combined with the increase in property taxes will it soon be too expensive to live in Chicago?
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For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.