(Chicago) – A one-percent sales tax increase being proposed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has laid an egg.
A new poll of 1,006 Cook County residents conducted by We Ask America found an overwhelming 75 percent of respondents oppose Preckwinkle’s proposal that would give Cook County the highest sales tax in the nation.
“Consumers in Cook County are already paying a high sales tax, and they have made it clear they do not want to pay even more,” said Rob Karr, president, Chicago Retail Merchants Association. The CRMA commissioned the poll.
In an appearance before the City Club of Chicago on Tuesday, Preckwinkle announced a projected operating shortfall for FY 2016 of $198.75 million, driven by increasing labor costs, rising legacy debt service, increased costs of the residential election cycle, and reductions in court filing revenues.
“When we passed the last year’s budget, I warned that fiscal year 2016 would be very challenging,” Preckwinkle said. “As we begin to prepare our spending plan, we are now faced with making difficult but necessary decisions to ensure a stable financial future for Cook County and its citizens.”
Preckwinkle estimates that a one-penny sales increase – a tax which she leveraged in the 2010 election to beat then-Cook County Board president Todd Stroger who had implemented an identical tax – would raise approximately $100 million annually.
Preckwinkle rolled-back the Stroger 1-penny tax over the course of her first term.
The specter of an increased sales tax would drive more consumers to online purchases and out of Cook County, the poll, conducted on June 30, says.
More than 45 percent say they will be more likely to shift to online shopping to avoid Cook County sales taxes, plus more than 68 percent say they would become more likely to shop outside Cook County, according to the survey.
“Across demographic lines, respondents are clear that they are likely to avoid the Cook County sales tax by shopping online or traveling to neighboring counties – as a result, Cook County will not raise the revenue they expect and their problem only gets worse,” Karr said.
The poll had a margin of error of ±3.1 %.
Preckwinkle’s tax proposal has drawn lukewarm enthusiasm from the Cook County Board of Commissioners and outright opposition by a key member.
“President Toni Preckwinkle has introduced a 1% sales tax increase,” Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-Chicago) said. “Regressive. Anti-business. Anti-consumer. Keeping my promise. I’m a no.”
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