County board pushes for tax rollback–again

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On Tuesday Cook County commissioners passed a motion to roll back by a half of one percent the county’s portion of sales tax. Currently, the county’s share of the sales tax is 1.75 cents on the dollar, pushing the city’s total sales tax

On Tuesday Cook County commissioners passed a motion to roll back by a half of one percent the county’s portion of sales tax. Currently, the county’s share of the sales tax is 1.75 cents on the dollar, pushing the city’s total sales tax to 10.25 cents on the dollar–the highest in the nation.

And if Cook County board President Todd Stroger decides to veto the motion it would be his third time doing so. He has five days from Tuesday’s vote to veto the measure. If he does, commissioners would need 11 votes to override him.

Previously commissioners were unsuccessful at overriding Stroger’s sales tax vetoes because 14 votes were needed. But a new state law reduced that.

Stroger could challenge the law that lowered the override threshold but he said he has not decided if he would do so. For now, his attention is on the county’s hospitals and health clinics.

“Our health care system would suffer if this motion is successful at standing,” Stroger said. “The level of health care will be decreased if we rollback the sales tax.”

By a vote of 12-5 the motion to rollback the 1.75 percent county sales tax to 1.25 percent passed and would take effect in July.

Of the county’s 17 commissioners, five are Black: Earlean Collins, D-1st Dist., Jerry Butler, D-3rd Dist., Robert Steele, D-2nd Dist., William Beavers, D-4th Dist., and Deborah Sims, D-5th Dist. Butler, Beavers and Sims voted against Tuesday’s roll back.

Butler said his vote could cost him his job.

“There’s a chance this will come back to hurt me but sometimes I hurt myself so it’s OK,” he told the Defender.

All of the county’s commissioners and Stroger are up for re-election in February.

Steele said while he voted to rollback the sales tax, he is not sure if he will vote the same way should Stroger veto the measure and another vote is taken to override him.

“I have not made up my mind what I will do if we get to that point. But I do know we need to do something to help the taxpayers of Cook County,” Steele said.

Earlier this year Steele voted to override Stroger’s veto but the measure fell one vote shy of the required 14 votes. Shortly after that Stroger fired Steele’s brother from his $100,000-ayear county job as a facility manager. And just last week his brother was rehired to a $90,000-a-year county job.

Steele said he hopes the firing and hiring is not a result of him voting to rollback the sales tax and declined to speculate if he thought it was deliberate on Stroger’s part.

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