Cook County Board Repeals Tax Hike; Stroger Vows Veto

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    It's just a penny on the dollar, but 1 percent adds up fast.

    The Cook County Board has voted to repeal the entire 1 percent sales tax hike it passed last year, but Board President Todd Stroger has vowed to veto the measure.

    The repeal would bring sales taxes in the city of Chicago down to 9.25 percent.  Commissioner Tony Peraica estimated that would save county taxpayers and businesses $400 million next year.

    The board voted 12-3 to repeal the tax, according to a release from Peraica.  The board would need 14 votes to override Stroger's promised veto.

    The sales tax rollback would take effect in January 2010.

    Stroger said rolling back the tax hike would leave the county $300 million in debt next year.  In a news release, he painted a gloom-and-doom picture that would include closing one or two of the county's hospitals, more than a dozen neighborhood health clinics, and slashing departments.

    “This is a quarter of a billion dollar disaster,” Stroger said in a release. “The advocates of today’s action have once again chosen to put their political opportunism ahead of the public well-being. Their dangerously responsible position threatens health care for hundreds of thousands of our patients, and will force the layoff of thousands of union workers at a time when the economy is facing its deepest crisis in sixty years.

    "Everyone needs to sharpen their pencils and look through that budget book and figure out where they're going to cut," the Sun-Times quoted Stroger as saying.

    Last month, Stroger proposed rolling back the tax hike by just 25 percent.