Wednesday, April 15, 2009

County to consider full roll-back of Stroger Tax at next board meeting

Fearing a real backlash from over-taxed residents in Cook County, Board President Todd Stroger proposed rolling back only a modest .25 percent of the 1 percent he added last year to the county's sales tax. The Stroger Tax raised the county portion of the sales tax from .75 percent to 1.75 percent, which in turn increased the burden on taxpayers already strapped by state and local sales tax hikes.

That proposal was swiftly sent to committee during this morning’s Cook County Board meeting. But tonight, a coalition of Republicans and progressive Democrats are weighing a new plan to roll-back the entire Stroger Tax not just by one .25 percent increment, but by four .25 percent increments in each of the next four years beginning this year until the entire “Stroger Tax” is repealed.

Leading the charge is 17th District Commissioner Elizabeth Doody Gorman, who has the backing of several commissioners whose ears have been ringing with voter opposition to the Stroger Tax.

Stroger can count on his City Machine minions to defend the tax, but there might be nine of the 17 commissioners who like Gorman have the courage to stand up to Stroger’s waste-filled rule.

“We plan to introduce the proposal to the next board meeting,” Gorman said Wednesday night. “I just got off the phone with several commissioners and the proposal has a lot of support.”

That puts emphasis on the comment from her anticipated county board rival, Pat Maher, that “there is more to just voting no” at board meetings. Gorman actually has not just voted “No,” she puts meaning behind the word voting “no” to unnecessary tax hikes that Stroger has forced upon the over-taxed residents of Cook County.

Gorman questioned the need for the millions that the Stroger tax will reap from over-taxed county residents, and challenged Stroger’s claim that the county can use the $100 million in stimulus money to pay county operating costs.

“That stimulus money should go to stimulate the economy and not to cover his expenses,” Gorman said. “We can’t put that in operating expenses. It’s supposed to go for new project to help create jobs and strengthen the economy.”

Gorman is right on when she argues that the money shouldn’t go into Stroger’s back pocket to pay for his city Machine patronage army, cronies and consultants.

The next board meeting is on May 5th. In the meantime, voters can help make this work by contacting their local county board commissioners and telling them to follow Gorman’s lead.

-- Ray Hanania

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